Pa.'s oldest and largest Memorial Day parade in Bridesburg
BRIDESBURG - May 28, 2012 (WPVI) -- Philadelphia's Bridesburg neighborhood held its annual Memorial Day observance today.
The parade is a part of the cultural DNA of the Bridesburg community, dating back to 1946. At that time a lot of young vets were coming home from the Pacific and from Europe. But one thing they wanted to do was to remember those comrades who had fallen.
Organizers say it is the oldest and largest Memorial Day parade in Pennsylvania - more than 50 units of marching bands to high school ROTC units to antique cars.
To watch it and take it in is a tradition in the neighborhood that can draw people back from the shore.
One resident tells us, "We just came up from Ocean City and we got up this morning and I said, 'Let's drive back to Bridesburg and go to the parade. So here we are."
For Vietnam veteran Tom O'Brien, this is a tradition of shared respect.
"These people out here make it all worthwhile. To march with my fellow veterans," said O'Brien. He then pointed to an elderly man seated on the side of the parade route and said, "This gentleman sitting right over here from the Navy, that's what we're out here for. That gentleman right there. We don't forget each other, and these people don't forget us. That's what it's all about."
That gentleman from the Navy is John Strockbine, who as a young man helped hunt down Japanese and German submarines some 70 years ago.
Strockbine says, "There's a lot of people that forget that some of the fellas weren't lucky enough to come home, and it's good to be able to remember that they're there. And sometimes we [World War II veterans] get together and do things, but it's getting pretty thin. There's not many of us left."
Fewer and fewer World War II vets are alive at this point in time. 16-million Americans served during World War II and it is estimated that now only 1.7-million are still alive.
bridesburg, philadelphia, military, memorial day, local/state
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