Tanks and other military vehicles came down Smith Street at lunchtime today, along with drill squads and a few political honchos, all part of today's Veteran's Day Parade.
Hair Balls was stationed right by the Houston Public Library, not that it was hard to find a spot since the crowd was pretty thin. (It was nothing like the throngs that are expected for the Thanksgiving Day parade or what we see during the Rodeo. This time it was mostly just office workers on their lunch hour.)
We asked Ned Norris, who was standing nearby, why he came out to the parade, and he had a quick answer: "I'm just here to pay tribute to the people who fought in the wars. Anybody that put their life on the line for people that they don't even know, they deserve for somebody to come out here and clap [for] 'em."
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At just thirty four-years-old, Norris is much too young to remember the draft or WWII. He acknowledges the perception that service men and women from earlier -- and more popular -- conflicts like WWII, for example, came home to a very different atmosphere and attitude than today's fighting men and women.
"That's true -- and that ain't right. Everybody has a chance of dying when they're out there, no matter what the cause is or what the name of the war is."
The parade started with the requisite color guards and politicians (including Anise Parker who was surrounded by folks like Sheila Jackson Lee and Jolanda Jones. About half an hour into the parade, Hair Balls noticed there weren't very many vets. The middle and high school ROTC companies, drill squads and marching bands seemed to outnumber the former service men and women, who mostly came along in small groups of a dozen or so.
While that was slightly disappointing, it wasn't anything like the stomach punch we got when we saw how young some of the ROTC squad members were -- as in twelve, maybe thirteen. Don't get us wrong, Hair Balls believes in serving our country. It was just more than a little upsetting to see pre-teens carrying rifles (even if those rifles were made of plastic or wood).