Red Square Richmond, Michigan

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From an eyewitness to American militarism on display:

My son plays clarinet for the Warren Cousino marching band (Warren is Michigan’s second largest city) and each year they get invited to small town Richmond’s “Good Old Days” parade. This being his first year in the band and our first experience with Richmond’s parade traditions, I still expected the usual display of cops, firemen, and military because, after all, it was being held on the anniversary of the day. Still, what presented itself was nothing short of astonishing. If Richmond was the small town version of a Moscow type Red Square military display, they could not have done any better. What I kept wondering was: Where did they find all this stuff? There were the usual state police, county sheriff cruisers, SWAT vans, motorcycle cops, town cops, bicycle cops, dune buggy cops, and other assorted representatives of state sponsored terrorism; but then there were WWII vets, Vietnam vets, a marine corps group, a military school with teenage girls in full camouflage uniforms, a rifle drill team, and National guardsmen. And on. Some of the vehicles were draped in black curtains in case we needed to be reminded why their presence is justified. About every fourth military/police display was followed by paramedics and firemen — also with black curtains and images of NYPD and the New York skyline. If that weren’t enough — and apparently the parade organizers felt it wasn’t —  there were armored troop carriers and half-tracks interspersed among all the military filled with local townies waving and smiling as they rumbled past. Every phase of this type of display was met with standing ovations and raucous clapping. But the biggest applause was reserved for a half-track rolling by with a little boy (maybe 6 or 7?) standing behind the mounted 50-caliber machine gun pretending like he was mowing down people in front of him. This was just too much.

I told my wife once our son’s band goes by, we’re leaving. She more than agreed. Lest anyone think it was nothing but military and police, there were at least two floats representing a couple of local church groups with large signs and banners proclaiming Jesus as the Way and the Truth and the Life, and our only hope for salvation. As far as I know, my wife and I were the only one’s clapping.

7:47 am on September 13, 2011