I played in all kinds of Memorial Day parades, since I was in my grade school, JHS, HS and university marching bands. I was also in a drum and bugle corps sometime during grade school. Yesterday I played in a band concert which was heavily Memorial Day-ized.
This time of year I think about birthdays. My mother shared her May 29th birthday with John F Kennedy. My three sisters are all born in June, exactly 5 years apart. Yes, I was a mistake.
I'm not a fan of the military. IMHO, after the Revolution and War of 1812, the US has only fought once for Truth, Justice and the American Way and that was WWII. We made a shambles of the peace, though.
When I was in college, the Vietnam War was at its height, and being drafted meant almost certain death. I did not turn 19 until the second year of the lottery, and my number was so high I was never going to be drafted, so I dodged that bullet, but I did serve my country for two years in the Peace Corps, and it hurts me to the core that there is no mention on this day of us, who gave two years of our lives to work in a foreign country, learn the language and culture, and get paid less than subsistence wages, with no GI Bill, no pension, no nothing, except for free medical care while serving, and about $2k at the end of service to help "readjust" to America. We did get 2 years' credit for Federal employment, but it expired after 5 years if we didn't use it.
So here's to all the Peace Corps Volunteers, especially the 290+ who died while serving.