Editorial: Memorial Day parades need a backup plan

06/03/2016 9:00 AM |

Hindsight is 20/20, or so the saying goes. And few things make us look more foolish than weather. 

So it’s easy to look back on the cancellation of parades in Southold and Riverhead towns this past weekend and ask, “They couldn’t march in a little light rain?”

On Saturday, we called someone affiliated with Riverhead’s parade to check in for a possible cancellation. We informed the man that Southold had already postponed its event.

“They did?” he remarked with a brief chuckle. “Don’t they realize we’re remembering men who stormed the beaches of Normandy?

“We’re a little tougher than that in Riverhead,” he added in a half-joking manner.

Twelve hours later, Riverhead threw in the American flag, too.

In the end, both towns ultimately made the right call. You can’t fill your waterfront downtowns with spectators on a day when flash flooding is in the forecast, no matter how slim the chances of it actually occurring.

It’s also tough to ask aging veterans and young Scouts to march in the streets under what might be a rumbling, lightning-filled sky.

Where organizers of the events in both towns erred this past weekend, however, was in canceling their entire programs outright. The Orient Fire Department should be commended for calling off its parade but still holding a brief ceremony in the village. The makeshift parade in Greenport was also a great way to honor the fallen.

In the future, organizers should have a rain day plan for Memorial Day. They should think outside the box and host a 30-minute indoor remembrance ceremony at Town Hall or a local school auditorium. It could be something that’s focused less on the spectacle of the holiday and more on why it exists in the first place.

People often seem confused about Memorial Day. Some folks view it as the start of summer, a day of leisure. Others get it mixed up with Veterans Day, on which all military personnel are celebrated.

We should not forget that Memorial Day is specifically designated to remember those killed in active duty — men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice. Surely we can sacrifice a little on their behalf and show up for them every year.

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