OPINION | Barry Richard: Keep Memorial Day Free of Politics
A young man standing near me on the parade route in New Bedford on Memorial Day was annoyed when he saw a handful of clipboard-clad young people making their way down the line of spectators in search of signatures. The clipboards contained petitions from Raise Up Massachusetts, which is looking to have two questions added to the ballot this fall.
The questions, both issues that should be resolved by the Massachusetts Legislature but won't, call for raising the state's minimum wage and establishing a paid family and medical leave act. Both would be disasters for businesses in Massachusetts.
The young man was less agitated by the subject matter as he was by what he felt was an intrusion on the occasion. He was also upset that politicians, a tradition in most all parades, were allowed to march and become a political spectacle all their own, waving and calling out to friends and supporters along the way.
The young man's feeling is that Memorial Day is a somber occasion, and that it should be free of politics and politicking. Politicians do have a way of making even the most somber of occasions appear to be a circus-like atmosphere.
While politicians have been a part of the Memorial Day observance for as far back as I can remember, I got to thinking that perhaps the young man was right to be annoyed. Perhaps a Memorial Day parade is not the proper place for politicking or collecting ballot signatures.
Perhaps next year we can ask our elected officials to refrain from participating in the parade and wait instead on the reviewing stand. A few less political speeches might be nice, too.
Thanks to that young man for making me think a bit more deeply about what Memorial Day is all about. Thanks, too, to all of the men and women who served our country so bravely. We love and appreciate your sacrifice.
Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.