Yesterday I attended the Salute to Israel Day Parade. Hell yeah I did. I visited my "Grandmother" with whom I was going to go, but turned out that she wanted to wait until after noon to leave, and I wanted to enjoy every minute of the parade. 11-4. Oh yeah baby. In the end I met up with the roommate, and from our perch on 71st and 5th we got a fairly good view, and I got a sunburn on 1/2 of my face.
I also discovered that I am super-lame. As I stood there, at approximately 11:22am, I found myself getting a bit choked up. Not just with my love and pride for Israel, but for these individuals. You see, the early morning slots are reserved for those people for whom it might be too hot to march later. I watched the Jewish War Veterans walk by, most in uniform, some with walkers, or in cars, and then I saw the AVI. The American Veterans of Israel's war for independence. If that wasn't enough, they were shortly followed by lines of firefighters from the tri-state area, and then the boy and girl scouts. I was a girl scout, so to watch little girls in a (somewhat) familiar uniform (there is a redesign every three years or so) march, holding Israeli flags, was really touching for me. After them came the Tzofim, the Israel Scouts.
As much as I make fun of Israel's paramilitary youth organization, the scouts are great. They marched down 5th avenue, in uniform, singing and holding large signs with the names of missing soldiers (Ehud "Udi" Goldwasser, Gilad Shalit, Eldad Regev, and Guy Hever). At this point I was actually crying. Fortunately the schools started to pass by shortly thereafter, and nothing about Frisch makes me want to cry. I do have one question, though. What's with the marching bands? They looked like random high schools. Now, I love marching bands, and I thought that they were terrific. The only reason that the roommate and I could come up with for their participation was that the schools were historically Jewish and have a relationship with the parade. But anyone who has a better idea, please let me know. Also, please explain the bagpipes.
Other people I saw: Dr. Ruth Westheimer, on the back of a little golf cart, Senator Chuck Schumer (announcing Am Yisroel Chai, and that his name means "shomer" or guard), Anthony Weiner, who might be the cutest representative that I've ever seen, and Jerry Nadler.
I wasn't the only one who went to the parade (obviously), I heard estimates of up to 1 million participants/observers, which of course made CJ say things all day like "all you need is 30 people with tnt strapped to their chests, and you could decimate New York's Jewish population." Nice, my boyfriend is paranoid. However, other people seemed to be having a good time, like Urban Infidel who has some great pictures, including some of Neturei Karta. Angel of Women Honor Thyself also has a fairly good photo gallery. You can see even more pictures, these by Jacob Richman of Good News From Israel on his website, although sadly none are of me, the roommate, or CJ.
I wasn't really sure about the history of the parade, Barbara of Barbara's Tchatzkahs gives a good run-down. And of course, just in case you thought that the parade was only sunshine and butterflies, there were some protesters. Neturei Karta, obviously, and Maytha of Kabobfest, who claims in his post that the police presence at the parade was because "f you are for Israel, you deserve protection; however, if you are against Israel, you are considered a danger or threat to society." I disagree there, I think that there are police escorts and presence at all of the parades (I remember some from the Greek Independence Day Parade a few weeks ago), and as paranoid as I think CJ is, any gathering of Jews, for Israel or any other reason, does become a target for terrorist activity.
Long story short: It was a great parade, and next year I want to be in a marching band, but I only play trombone. Anyone else play a useful instrument?