It's America's day, perhaps her only day

There’s not a more celebrated national holiday in this country than Independence Day, the designated birthday of our great nation. What began in 1775 as a struggle for autonomy by the New England British colonists culminated on July 2, 1776 with the Second Continental Congress secretly voting for total independence.  Two days later, that Congress, representing the 13 British Colonies of North America, adopted a formal declaration of independence, officially separating the colonies from the Kingdom of Great Britain and declaring them as newly independent sovereign states. This new nation was referred to as the “United States of America.” And the rest is history.

Commonly known at the Fourth of July, this annual day of patriotic displays and family unity is generally associated with
parades, barbecues, concerts, sporting events, reunions, speeches, and fireworks. With patriotism as the prevailing theme, decorations of red, white, and blue are the norm, and American flags fly at every corner. Patriotic tunes fill the air. Fireworks fill the sky.

And citizens forget politics briefly as they praise the positive aspects associated with being an American. And last, but certainly not least, an emphasis is placed on those who insure the preservation of our hard-fought liberty and freedom, the active duty military and the veterans of America. This day is about our nation and all the good that it embodies. And this day is much too short.

Each year, TAVV is invited to participate in local Independence Day celebrations. Such was the occasion about 10 years
ago when the community of Lakeway, southwest of Austin, invited us to march in their annual Fourth of July parade. With no real ties to Lakeway and having no expectations, we accepted their invitation in an effort to expand our organization’s reach across Central Texas. As a group, that was one of our better decisions. The strong veteran presence among the retirees in Lakeway embraced our parade entry, and accepted us with open arms. Each year they now look forward to our return. And for us, it’s the best parade of the year. I don’t think in this whole country you’ll find a more patriotic group of Americans than the folks at Lakeway.

Those of you who haven’t participated in this parade have missed out. Unlike most parades around the State, the route doesn’t travel downtown Main Street, not through a business district nor between multi-level buildings or skyscrapers. The parade route simply meanders through the Lakeway neighborhoods, following the 2-lane roads, visiting the people where they live. Those folks don’t go to the Fourth of July parade. The parade comes to them, as the mostly retired residents pull chairs and golf carts from their manicured lawns up to the curb to cheer, wave, and take photographs. In some places, the crowd is 5 and 10 people deep. And there are tons of flag-waving, wide-eyed kids in awe of the patriotic pomp and pageantry. It’s small-town America at its best and a place where veterans are still heroes.  Most parade entries compete for prizes. TAVV doesn’t. We’re there only to represent our Vietnam era of veterans, to make sure that we don’t become another generation of forgotten warriors.

Our entry is simple, consistent, and perhaps even boring. Behind a banner declaring who we are is an armed combat patrol in full period gear followed by a Garrison flag carried by members and supporters of our organization. Although we don’t intentionally compete, our entry still manages to win an award on occasion.  And this year was one of those times. I was informed the day after the parade that we once again placed in the marching competition.  And by the way, TAVV participants unable to walk the route are encouraged to ride in vintage military vehicles provided by our friends and associates from the Military Vehicle Preservation Association, which is usually the parade entry behind us. To say that TAVV is well-received by Lakeway is an understatement. At every turn, our group is met with a standing ovation. It may not be the “coming home” we would’ve liked to have had so long ago, but it’ll have to do. And these Americans are sincere.

Following the parade, our group met at Mimi’s Restaurant in the Galleria at Bee Caves for breakfast, complements of TAVV.  This year, there were about 55 of us. So to you TAVV members who chose to stay home instead or to go shopping, you might want to reconsider joining TAVV at Lakeway when Independence Day comes around next year. There are no substitutes for brotherhood and patriotism. And this day is the one day each year when terminally polarized America seems to put country before politics. It’s America’s day, perhaps her only day. And it’s a sight to behold.

See you on Thursday.

Semper fi! 

Don Dorsey, President

The Austin Chapter of Texas Association of Vietnam Veterans (TAVV) meets Thursday, July 10, 2014 - 7:00 pm at VFW Post 856 — 406 E Alpine Rd - Austin, Texas 78704.

February 13, 2019 - 11:37am