Greetings and Salutations to All my Kith and Kin and All the Ships in Outer Space:
This weekend is Pioneer Day, a major holiday for members of The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints, for it celebrates the anniversary of when the Mormon pioneers first arrived in the valley of the Great Salt Lake.
In previous years, I could use my computer to watch a live television broadcast of the big parade in Salt Lake City.
But, all of those Utah television stations stopped streaming that broadcast over the Internet, so now, so far as I'm aware, we can no longer watch the parade (unless you're actually IN Utah).
As I think of this, I'm reminded of the times when I marched in the parade, or rode on the float.
When I lived in Saint Anthony, Idaho, each year, I was invited to participate in the local Pioneer Day parade.
One year, they had me dress up as a combat soldier and walk behind the float with other members of my ward, all of us holding to the "iron rod".
Another time, I rode on the float, playing my guitar and singing cowboy songs.
In another Pioneer Day parade, I walked along in the middle of the street, and singing, as I strummed my guitar, advertising an event at the "ROXY" Theatre, where I lived in the apartment above the lobby, acted in community theatre plays, and performed at various community events, including gatherings of the Cowboy Poets of Idaho.
One time, I was visiting a mountain man rendezvous in Idaho, and one of the fellows invited me to participate in their bonfire that night, where there'd be music and tall tales.
So, even though I wasn't a mountain man, I marched to the bonfire along with the rest of them.
By the way, if you've never been to a mountain man rendezvous, you've just absolutely GOT to go to one!!!
Did you know that the American Indians on the reservations today, having forgotten much of their heritage, turn to the mountain men for instruction in the old ways?
When I lived in Salt Lake City, Utah and when I lived in Saint Anthony, Idaho, I always put my medals on my Sunday-go-to-meetin' suit, and marched in the Veterans Day parade, after which we'd all go to the VFW for free bowls of hot chili.
I did that every single year, religiously, without fail.
One year, on Veterans Day, I rode on a float in Provo, Utah, playing my guitar and singing, or at least, that was what was planned.
Because of all the noise, no one could hear me singing, and it was too cold for the guitar to stay in tune.
I don't remember if I ever participated in a Saint Patrick's Day parade, although Mama taught me to always observe and celebrate that holiday, and I've always done so, wearing green (even on duty in my police uniform!), singing Irish songs, watching Irish movies, eating corned beef, and drinking O'Doul's alcohol-free beer.
But, when I lived at the Soldiers' Home in Washington, D.C., after learning of my Highlander ancestry, I always marched with my clan in the annual Scottish Christmas Walk, which is probably the largest gathering of Scots and Irish, along with other Celtic heritage groups.
You should SEE that parade!
Not only do the clans march, but Scots and Irish love showing off their pets, so there's plenty of puppy dogs in that parade, plus historic reenactors from all over, and for the grand finale, Santa Claus rides in on a fire truck!
Later that night, my clan would have its ceilidh, which I always went to, and participated in.
In addition, I'd attend local Celtic festivals and Highland clan gatherings, where I'd march in the grand entrance, wearing my kilt, and carrying my sword.
One of the most memorable parades I ever participated in was the anniversary of the Viet Nam Memorial in Washington, D.C.
On that day, I marched down Constitution Avenue with Viet Nam veterans of the First Signal Brigade and the Phu Lam Signal Battalion, and wore my KILT, with all of my medals properly arranged on my Argyll jacket.
Just think of it - - - marching down CONSTITUTION AVENUE!!!
Man, that is HISTORY!
And that reminds me of ANOTHER parade of Viet Nam veterans that I took part in!
I don't remember the year, but several of us veterans in Salt Lake City went to Los Angeles, California for a huge reunion of Viet Nam veterans, and there, I marched with the veterans of the 101st Airborne Division, the unit I served in after I left the Phu Lam Signal Battalion in Saigon.
Another unit I served in was the 178th Maintenance Company at Dong Ha, but I've never seen anyone from that unit in a parade or at a veteran's event.
Being new here to the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, I don't know anything about any parades in this area.
Last year, I went to the annual Highlands and Islands Scottish Games and Celtic Music Festival at the Harrison County Fairgrounds here in Gulfport, Mississippi.
But, alas, I was in very bad shape, and never could make it to either the ceilidh or the parade of veterans.
I love the ceilidhs as much as I love the parades.
Ah, but who doesn't love going to a ceilidh?
"Ceilidh" is a Gaelic word, pronounced as "Kay-Lee", and its literal translation is "social".
It's the same in Ireland as it is in Scotland, but the Irish spell it slightly differently.
It's where we all get together for food, music, stories, games, and dancing.
Now, I get tired so easily and I have a lot of pain, which varies in intensity, occasionally making walking difficult.
If there's a Veterans Day parade, or a Saint Patrick's Day parade, I wonder if I'm physically able to march in it?
I have difficulty just walking around here, but that's largely due to sciatica, which used to not bother me, and hopefully, maybe it'll disappear again.
But, so far, it seems to be hanging on - - - this time.
Well, since I rarely leave my room, I don't know very much of what goes on around here.
I'm quite certain I could never wear my suit coat with all my medals on it, because in this area, it's just too hot.
As a practical alternative, when I attended a military funeral, I wore my medals on my khaki shirt, something I learned from watching a John Wayne movie, which took place on a tropical island.
Well, maybe I'll get better.
Anyway, those are some of my fond memories of auld lang syne.
Offical Bard of Clan Henderson