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Old 03-14-2008, 12:29 PM
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danausmc danausmc is offline
Join Date: May 2010
Location: West Seneca NY
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Chaplain Larry Haworth

Here's my article for our 11th Armored Cav vets paper, Thunder Run. I thought you might like to peruse it:


“Everybody loves a parade!” That may be a cliché, but that’s because it’s true. Check Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or check the Rose Parade where hundreds of thousands crowd the parade route to watch those beautiful (and expensive) floats go by. Millions more watch it on the tube, me included. When I was a teen-ager (I have a long memory) a bunch of us went over to Pasadena for the Rose Parade. We stayed out all night cruising and having a good time (of course, we were causing no trouble - what were you thinking?) We even knew one of the princesses on a float. What joy! We knew a princess - and she knew us.

When I was a kid parades were especially great. The popular circus parades were before my time - they were in my dad’s time. When I was six or eight years old during World War II, the best parades were soldiers going off to war. They looked so proud- straight and tall, marching in formation, rifles across their shoulders, flags flying! Young as I was I still easily remember how patriotic we were and how fine the soldiers looked as they paraded by. I don’t remember if they had marching bands. I do remember how great the soldiers looked and how impressed I was as a boy.

Fast forward to the early 1980s. I was the Community Chaplain in Schweinfurt, Germany. Duty was tough and life was demanding. We had most of the 3d Infantry Division in Schweinfurt with its battalions of infantry, armor, and artillery plus the armored cavalry squadron. Those were the days of patrolling the East German border where we had the sector out of Coburg. The border’s gone now, but in those days it was the Iron Curtain frontier of freedom and we knew it. There was the normal amount of griping and problems, but morale was good. It was the period following Viet Nam so morale was a lot better than in those days, which you might remember. One thing I remember clearly is the unit parades. Yes, the parades. Soldiers worked all day in fatigues, of course. Having a combat mission far forward meant long hours and hard work. Pride was there but it wasn’t thought much about, except for the commanders and first sergeants who wanted to keep their unit’s pride strong and morale high. Whenever we had a change of command ceremony or official parade with a pass in review, I could see clearly that every trooper, dressed and sweating in his class A uniform, was proud to be a soldier in the United States Army. You may not have thought of it that way at the time but I hope you agree now. Parades brought out the best and finest in the troops. Each one looked strong and fine, he was on display for what he was - a professional fighting man committed to the cause of freedom anywhere his country called him. Life in the Army may or may not have been so great in it’s daily routine. But line up the soldier in his class A dress uniform with hundreds of his buddies, and what he feels is pride. Pride in himself, his buddies, his country, and what they stand for. Now we have many more women in uniform. The same applies. That’s what I believe. That’s what I saw.

Now back up a few years, between WWII and the 1980s to the period of the Viet Nam War. Everything was different then. I joined the Army as a chaplain in 1966 and retired in 1992. I’m of the Viet Nam era and proud of it. If I had it to do over, I would. The Viet Nam soldier may have gotten a bad rap, but we know it for what it was, a bad rap. We had a tough assignment - fight a war where the government wouldn’t claim victory and a media that wouldn‘t tell it like it was. We’ve talked about this before. What we’ll talk about here is the public parades as in “Welcome Home.” That’s the subject of this conversation. Or, should I say, “What parades?” I don’t recall any. Do you? What I do remember is soldiers being drafted or volunteering because they were going to be drafted, or volunteering because it was, for them, the right thing to do. Most soldiers, even in those days, were truly patriotic. For that war, most were trained, then immediately shipped off to Viet Nam. They (you?) fought, did what they were supposed to do, did it well (regardless of what some would say), then came home - alone. No parades, no bands, no welcoming committees, no official thanks, no nothing. Nothing good or positive, that is. Too bad. Yes, that was too bad. Too bad for the country, too bad for history, too bad for all who love a parade.

Huh? Too bad for all who love a parade? That‘s right. Viet Nam soldiers didn’t have parade one. None. Nada. Nul. But it doesn’t stop there. “What?,” you say. “Explain yourself, chaplain.” OK. Recall that I retired in 1992. Desert Shield and Desert Storm were fought in 1990, give or take a few months. Parades, parades, parades. And bands and parties and welcoming committees and government thanks and lots of credit for a job well done - all the things the Viet Nam soldier didn’t have. But everybody still loves a parade. That‘s right. Consider this: the extravagance of Desert Storm parades were largely because our country was trying to make up for the rotten reception they gave their Viet Nam warriors. I’ve talked about this before so won’t repeat much. But hear this, those parades were for our kids. Which is what Desert Storm troopers were - our kids. In my opinion, the parades were really a way of celebrating all vets, of celebrating what our military is all about, anyway. Besides, our kids deserved those parades.

Now our grandkids are coming home. They get parades too. Be happy! They aren’t getting credit in the media for all they‘re doing, but Americans are happy for them anyway. When they stand in full dress formation, when they march in review, when they march in the Rose Parade or their hometown parade, it’s a great sight. It makes us proud to be an American. It makes us proud to be a soldier. It makes us proud to be a vet. Right? Right.

I’m reminded of another parade a long time ago. It’s recorded in the Bible. Here’s the write-up: “The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!’ ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ‘Hosanna in the highest!’ When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?” The crowds answered, ‘This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.” (Matthew 21:6-11, NIV) (A week later Jesus was illegitimately tried, condemned, crucified, buried, rose from the dead, and ascended to heaven, all to provide eternal life and purpose for whoever would accept it).

It’s easy to see that people love parades, from the “parade” we call the Triumphal Entry in the Bible to the Rose Parade with soldiers passing in review.

God bless you. God loves you. So do I.

Chaplain Larry Haworth -
176 Rainbow Drive, #7627
Livingston, Texas 77399
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