Blog #32. May 28, 2014 By Marcus W. Robbins
Monday May 26, was a glorious sunshine filled day. On this day we had the honor to witness our very own Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Shipyard Commander Captain Mark Bridenstine serve as the Grand Marshal of the City of Portsmouth’s 130th Annual Memorial Day Parade. He was accompanied by his wife Shelly.
Norfolk Naval Shipyard Commander Captain Mark Bridenstine
Grand Marshal of Portsmouth’s 130th Memorial Day Parade is accompanied by his wife Shelley.
Photo provided by Marcus W. Robbins.
While the weather in eastern Virginia can sometimes be unpredictable this day was bright and sunny. A cheerful festive mood resonated loudly down the street as an estimated crowd of 10,000 attendees lined the sidewalks of High Street for as far as the eye could see. American flags waved and patriotic music played. Red, white and blue was the color theme of the day!
This parade has been a Portsmouth tradition dating back to 1884, a 130 years. To have the leader of the nation’s oldest continuous operating naval shipyard serve as Grand Marshal this year just seemed to be fitting as the modern Norfolk Naval Shipyard can trace its roots back to November 1, 1767 some 247 years. I have often said that the story of both Portsmouth and our Navy Yard must be told together as one cannot be separated without mentioning the other. We live in a proud community, one that has served our nation well. Now, isn’t that what Memorial Day is all about? Providing unwavering military service to the nation is something that comes easily to both of these great institutions.
After the parade nearby there was a touching service to honor the Vietnam War Memorial and the names of local war heroes whose honor of service to their county was acknowledged and their names were read aloud. These folks gave the ultimate sacrifice so that we could enjoy events such as the one today. On this day as it should be every day, we should be proud to be “Americans” and not identified by any other labels. On this day there was an especially strong sense of “united we stand”. It should be our hope we never lose this spirit of freedom and not just outwardly display it on 1 day and ignore it the other 364 days of the year.
As quoted by Portsmouth’s Mayor Kenneth I. Wright he proudly provided the following. “Celebrating the 130th Annual Memorial Day Parade in Portsmouth is a long honored tradition of which I am very proud, and it also kicks-off a festive time of tourism and outdoor events within the beautiful and historic City of Portsmouth.”
With approximately 65 marching bands, cars, floats, drill teams and other units marching this indeed was a community event. From the youngest to the oldest observing from the sidewalk or of the wide range of participants there were smiles everywhere. A cross section of not only of our community was represented but of our nation. We are a diverse people, again on Monday the only label you could rightfully place on the crowd was that of “Americans”.
Did you miss this year’s event? Do you wish you could have made it? Have you ever attended as a child yet lost touch and wish you could make that connection again? Fear not – if I were a betting man I would say just as Spring follows Winter you shall get another chance next May as the Memorial Day observance gears up for consecutive year 131 because here in Portsmouth Virginia –“history matters”.