I am still in the kitchen making breakfast when the police sirens begin to sound. The children, who have been running in and out of the house all morning, shout, “The parade is here! It’s starting!”

Ann Arbor’s only Memorial Day Parade takes place every year (for the last twenty-five years) in the northeast corner of Ann Arbor. A cute little neighborhood parade, it starts at Greenbrier Park and winds its way past our house and down Bardstown on its way to Glacier Highlands Park on Larchmont. This is Pfizer Land, and all the neighbors are out in front of their houses for the first time since the end of winter, talking about housing prices and sales, checking out the new babies, and reconfirming who is having the barbeque this year.

As my children scurry around excitedly, I remind them one last time that they have to be respectful, that Memorial Day is actually a very somber occasion, one that honors the brave men and women who have given their lives to protect our freedom in America, and that although we do not glorify war, their great-grandfathers on both sides were military men.

Leading the parade are three elderly vets carrying the American flag, accompanied by the snappy Huron High School Drumline. The Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts, Camp Fire Girls, and Brownies are all here in their uniforms, passing out candy with their families. State Representative Pam Byrnes brings a fluffy miniature donkey pulling a covered wagon. The Ann Arbor Chinese Center of Michigan comes with a team of athletic Lion Dancers, jumping and kicking their way down the street. The Ecology Center EcoRide brings a team of bicy-clists. A fire truck and a van from Busch’s add some more color. A long red classic convertible brings up the rear with calliope playing.

The whole neighborhood joins the procession on bikes, scooters, strollers, and wagons decorated with red, white, and blue. We bike down together as a family, stopping to visit with neighbors and friends who live a little further down. As we ride past Mr. Bentley’s old house on Bardstown, we remember how he used to dress in full uniform and salute as the whole parade went by.

Once at the park, everyone settles down quickly as the names of all the Michigan servicemen who were killed in action this past year are read aloud. The Scouts line up to watch the color guard. A Clague student we know plays Taps. Then all the neighborhood children swarm onto the doughnuts before dispersing again out to the bright blue play structures.

This year’s Glacier Area Homeowners Association Memorial Day Parade will be Monday, May 25.