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Everyone Loves a Parade
The center of Branford is where we pay our taxes, attend church, do our shopping and honor our heroes. Every year, for as long as I can remember, our town organized parades on Memorial and Veterans day. As a child I was fascinated by the colorful pageantry and familiar music. In school we learned the words to patriotic songs like The Battle Hymn of the Republic, America the Beautiful and The Star Spangled Banner. When the marching bands in their bright outfits smartly stepped past my family and I, we knew the words to the music they were playing. Only as I grew older did I begin to understand the meaning behind the music and pageantry of our parades.
Marching in a parade was a special honor which was afforded at different times to my brothers and I. My oldest brother Billy marched with the Branford High School band while playing his clarinet. Tommy played the trumpet but was most memorable when he marched as a young Uncle Sam. Billy kept perfectly in step and never seemed to miss a note. As a young child I liked the sound of the drums but was most impressed with the tuba player. That instrument was huge and he had to play and carry it for the entire length of the parade.
Billy and Terry were both volunteer firemen and often joined their ranks in the parades. Terry was with M P Rice Company 2 while my oldest brother Billy, was with Company 8. I marched as a Cub scout once or twice when Billy was a Cub Master for the Canoe Brook School troop. Billy continued to volunteer for the Boy Scouts and lead them in many Branford parades. In 2003 he marched with his son Michael and the Boy Scouts in the Veteran's Day parade.
It was my brothers Ronnie and Larry who showed me the way to participate in a parade that was the most fun.
350th Anniversary Parade - Marshall's Car
Branford Boy Scouts
Larry and Ronnie showed me how to decorate my bike for the annual Memorial Day parade. Larry was the oldest, and the one with spare change, so he would often buy the crepe paper and baseball cards. All three of us would wrap the red, white and blue crepe paper through the spokes, around our handlebars and hang a few pieces off the back of our seats to wave in the wind.
In 1644 the town of Branford was formed by English settlers. Just 7 years earlier the first member of my family, John Brockett, left his family and country in search of a new life free from religious persecution. He boarded the good ship Hector and in 1637 arrived in Boston. A short while later he helped settle and carve from the wilderness a new town, a haven in the New World. They named it New Haven and today it lies just to the west of Branford, Connecticut.
For extra flourish we would borrow a few spring type clothes pins from Mother and clip baseball cards to our bicycle's frame. They sounded like a drum roll as every spoke snapped past them. The parade Marshall allowed us to stay in the back of the parade along with our school buddies who all had equally decorated bicycles. When Larry and Ronnie left home to join the Army and serve their country, Terry and I carried on the tradition of riding our bicycles in the parades.
World War II veterans were a common sight in parades past. Every year their ranks grow smaller and fewer are able to march. Our town and our country are grateful for the bravery and sacrifices of the entire World War II generation. They changed the course of history, freed millions of people from tyranny and gave us a world that was dramatically better than the one they were born into. We are grateful and we will always remember them.
Members of our community have fought bravely since the American Revolutionary war. Many stone and bronze memorials now dot our town center and green to honor those heroes who often gave their lives. Our country has faced many threats from the British Redcoats to Pearl Harbor and now 9/11. Each time, citizens from Branford and many other towns and cities across America, answered the call of duty and bravely fought the enemy. We are grateful to live in a country where our rights and freedoms are enshrined in our Constitution and our Declaration of Independence. We are equally grateful for the heroes that allow us to preserve our freedoms and live in peace.
World War I Memorial behind our Town Hall
Civil War Monument
next to our Town Hall
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