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OPINION: Meriden’s Memorial Day parade needs participation

OPINION: Meriden’s Memorial Day parade needs participation

What’s the best time of year for a parade?

Well, St. Patrick’s Day is too cold, the Fourth of July is too hot, and April, when Meriden holds its Daffodil parade, is the rainiest month.

But Memorial Day is just about perfect, weather wise. And what could be more appropriate than honoring the nation’s war dead and preserving the memory of their sacrifice?

But participation in Memorial Day parades is waning. Last year’s turnout was “an embarrassment,” said City Councilor Bob Williams, who is also commander of American Legion Post 45, which organizes the event. Williams believes the meaning of Memorial Day has been lost, particularly on the younger generations, so the organizers are trying to boost it.

But let me suggest more reasons why interest in this all-American ritual has declined.

There’s less of what makes a community a community today. The dictionary says “community” means a bunch of people “living in a particular area” who have “a common history or common social, economic, and political interests.” 

Common interests? Is that really us? Not so much.

Once upon a time, we got our news from Walter Cronkite and from our local TV and radio stations and our local newspaper. That shared information was a common thread that linked us as members of a community.

Nowadays, each of us can go off to his or her corner of the internet, where we read only stuff that we already agree with.

Not that it’s bad to broaden our horizons and our sources of info; it’s just that now we have the whole world at our fingertips, but human nature seems to send us seeking mainly for new sources to confirm what we already think. And something is being lost in the process, something we used to value. Call it community.

Once upon a time, there was one telephone in each home, and it was the family phone, and it was located in the living area, so everything you said could be heard by others. It was not meant for any individual family member, but for the household. There might be an extension phone, but I don’t remember any of my school friends having a private line in their bedroom. We were expected to be, first and foremost, members of a family.

Nowadays, every man, woman and child has his or her own smartphone, so we go off to our corner of the house and enjoy our privacy — a kind of privacy that previous generations of parents never dreamed their children were entitled to.

(A RANT: From an early age, kids now are considered individuals, just like adults — but without the life experience that adults have earned, often through painful experience, which is why they’re the parents and, presumably, in charge. Each kid now has a terminal that provides access to a whole world of information — along with a whole world of trolls, crooks, frauds, bullies, crackpots and child molesters. END RANT.)

From an early age now, we are free to be “individuals,” and that trumps our need or desire to be members of a family or something larger: a community.

This is progress?

Note: This year’s Memorial Day parade will start at 10 a.m. on Monday, May 27, on Curtis Street, and end at the new downtown Green.

Reach Glenn Richter at