By Jalen Wade
BOWIE – Memorial Day is a time of remembrance. It is a time to recall those who have fallen and those who are still fighting for America.
On May 25, the City of Bowie came together to celebrate Memorial Day with its annual Memorial Day parade.
The parade began at the Belair Annex and continued through most of the city before ending on Sage Lane. Families gathered on the grassy fields and the sidewalks, either standing or lounging in the shade with chairs, to enjoy the show.
The event began with the City of Bowie Police Department Honor Guard coming down the hill, followed by Bowie State University’s Symphony of Soul marching band. According to Matt Corley, special events manager for the City of Bowie, 77 units participated in the parade. There were some difficulties of planning the ceremony, Corley said.
“I’d say the most difficult aspect of it is trying to separate the different types of groups that want to have music; you have groups like to dance and have music, and you have bands. You’ve got to try and separate them, so they don’t drown each other out,” said Corley.
Corley remarked that he will start planning next year’s parade within the week.
There was a wide variety of floats going by which included various Bowie municipal service groups, such as the city’s fire and police department. The parade also had cars containing members of Maryland government such as State Sen. Douglas J.J. Peters and Maryland Delegate Marvin Holmes Jr. Other groups from around Bowie, such as the Boy, Girl and Cub scouts, walked as well.
As this was a parade to celebrate the service men and women of America, there were cars carrying veterans. Some veterans, such as Ann Gantt were viewing the parade from the sidelines.
Gantt, who had served 13 years in the Navy, came to the parade to see her granddaughter, who is in the ROTC class at Bowie High School and was one of the flag guards in the parade. Gantt said that the march was a good way to remind people of why Memorial Day was important.
“Parades are always good so long as you know what it’s for which is to honor the veterans, those that serve and those that gave their lives for the country,” said Gantt.
Parents who brought their children to the event felt that the parade was an excellent way to show them the importance of Memorial Day from a young age. Matthew Weinstein said that it was “absolutely important for children to come out and learn what Memorial Day is truly about.”
“It’s not just about cookouts and barbeques. It’s about our veterans and paying homage and respect,” Weinstein said.
Weinstein, who is a single father of three, found that the parade was a good way for everyone in the community to bond and come together.
“People that usually wouldn’t hang out with each other are in a field while they’re waiting for the parade to come by and everybody talks and interacts,” said Weinstein. “Their kids play together because kids talk to kids and make friends really quick. And that’s really a good thing for me because I want to do stuff for my kids that my parents didn’t do for me.”
In the spirit of bringing everyone together, the parade did not just contain people related to the United States. There were also various marching bands and dance groups representing places across the globe, such as Latin America and Scotland.
Camille McLaughlin, who has been attending the event for a decade, said that it was nice to allow different people to celebrate in both the parade and in the crowd. She explained how having different cultures march for an American holiday relates to the country itself.
“I think that when we think of America, we all play a part in building America and fighting for the rights of America, serving America in the service as well as all the things we do every day as Americans, and everyone here plays a part in that, and it’s important that everyone feels welcome, appreciated and celebrated,” McLaughlin said.