- The Washington Times - Monday, May 30, 2005

The District yesterday hosted the first National Memorial Day Parade in more than 50 years, paying tribute to veterans and honoring the nation’s war dead from the American Revolution to Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The parade, which was the first to be held in the District since World War II, stepped off promptly at 9 a.m. near the Capitol with the singing of the national anthem. Five young U.S. Marines began the procession, carrying the American flag.

The parade ended more than two hours later with a Veterans of Foreign Wars float that featured four men kneeling and lifting the American flag — evoking an image of the Marine Corps War Memorial near Arlington National Cemetery.

Spectators along the nine-block stretch of Independence Avenue from the Capitol to the Washington Monument, repeatedly rose in respect as flags and veterans passed by.

Mayor Anthony A. Williams served as the parade’s grand marshal and rode in a 1981 Rolls Royce convertible. Mr. Williams is credited with reinstating the National Memorial Day Parade after the success of last year’s “Parade Salute to World War II Veterans” on Independence Avenue.

Spectators gave a standing ovation to 103-year-old former Petty Officer 1st Class Lloyd Brown, one of the parade’s honorary grand marshals, who rode by in a 1910 vintage car. Mr. Brown served in World War I after he lied about his age to join the U.S. Navy.

“I told them I was 18, and I went in as a 16-year-old,” Mr. Brown said, adding that he did it because he was eager to serve.

During the war, Mr. Brown served on the USS New Hampshire, sailing out of Norfolk to search for German submarines. At the end of the war, Mr. Brown re-enlisted for another four years and later became a fireman in the District. He now lives in Charlotte Hall, Md.

Spectator Tish Callin, 54, of Atlanta, came to the District because she said she loves the city. She said attending the parade was one of the highlights of her trip.

“I am certainly glad I got to see this Memorial Day parade,” she said.

At one point, Swing Shift Singers, who performed in the parade, stopped in front of the reviewing stand to sing a rendition of the Andrews Sisters’ “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.” Ms. Callin silently mouthed the words to the song. Other spectators clapped their hands to the rhythm of the music.

Units in the parade represented the servicemen and women of all wars involving the United States, dating back to the American Revolution. There were floats that paid tribute to veterans of the Korean War, Vietnam War, Gulf War and the liberation of Grenada, Panama, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Groups such as the American Gold Star Mothers, whose sons and daughters died in war, the Military Order of the Purple Heart, the Disabled American Veterans and the Jewish War Veterans of the USA were also represented in the parade.

Daniel Muldar, 27, and his parents from West Palm Beach, Fla., came to the District to cheer on the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, whose cadets took part in the parade.

“My brother [Thomas] is in the parade with the Coast Guard,” said Mr. Muldar, who served five years in the Navy.

Boy Scouts carried colored banners reaching nearly 20 feet into the air. The older Scouts helped the younger boys when the banners became tangled in the trees that lined the parade route.

The parade was one of many Memorial Day events during which President Bush, high-ranking government officials and local residents took time to remember those who served in the U.S. armed forces.

Mr. Bush also took part in the wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery yesterday morning.

In Maryland, many family members struggled with feelings of both pride and grief as they honored those killed in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The family of Prince George’s County native Army Spc. Jason C. Ford, 21, visited Arlington National Cemetery on Sunday to pay tribute. Spc. Ford died in a roadside bomb explosion in Tikrit on March 13, 2004.

His father, Joseph C. Ford, who lives in Temple Hills, wasn’t able to make it to Arlington last year on the first Memorial Day after his son’s death.

“It was just too fresh on the first Memorial Day,” he said. “It was just too soon.”

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and his father, a Korean War veteran, joined the families of Maryland troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens in Timonium. Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele spoke at a Memorial Day ceremony in Ocean Pines.

In Virginia, gubernatorial candidates Jerry W. Kilgore, a Republican, and Timothy M. Kaine, a Democrat, attended several holiday parades and festivals.

• Gary Emerling contributed to this article, which is based in part on wire service reports.

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