Memorial Day in Rockville featured a parade filled with American flags, live music, veterans and remembrances of the fallen. Rockville Hometown Holidays included not only a Memorial Day Weekend music festival but also a chance for those attending to show appreciation for those who have served our country.
“I think everyone should be out here supporting, because not only are you supporting Rockville, you are supporting the troops and showing your appreciation for them serving this country,” said Desmonaye Brown, 23, Rockville native and staff member participating in the Hometown Holidays event. Although Brown said her duties included safety and security, she said she also wanted to celebrate her father.
“This day represents my father. He was honorably discharged in 1998, so I’m just out here to support him and support everyone else in my family who has served,” said Brown.
As the ceremony began, which included music by the Rockville Concert Band and the Rockville Chorus, a traditional wreath-laying ceremony, and a 21-gun salute and presentation of colors by American Legion Post 86 Color Guard, people sat along the sidewalks making way for the performers.
“The parade is a great free community event for families to come out and see the local community groups perform in the heart of Rockville Town Center,” said Amanda Knox, 30, the event specialist for Hometown Holidays. “Memorial Day is a great opportunity to thank and remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country, and it’s great to see the community come together and support that,” said Knox.
Knox added that the parade takes about nine months of planning and preparation to arrange all the performances, recruitment of volunteers, and various logistics.
“I’ve been going to this parade for over 13 years,” said Jabel Sallah, 17, a junior at Richard Montgomery High School who wore his American flag sunglasses and called himself “Mr. America” during the event because of his patriotic ensemble. “I’m here to have fun and to make everyone happy.”
When asked what he feels Hometown Holidays brings to Montgomery County residents, Sallah said “Everyone is full of joy and proud to be an American.”
Born and raised in Rockville, Sallah said he loves the parade and the other events in Rockville that take place over the Memorial Day weekend, and has plans to join the Air Force.
Sallah wasn’t the only with hopes of serving the country; Hometown Holidays was filled with potential recruits and military veterans.
“It’s Memorial Day, [and] I always come to the Rockville parade,” said Ted Rabkin, 71, an Army veteran who served in Vietnam. “This day means remembering all the veterans and everyone who served this country, especially those who lost their lives and are not here to see this parade.”
Rabkin says being a veteran on Memorial Day and being celebrated during the Hometown Holidays event is good and shows a lot of respect. “Now it’s good, now it’s good. When we got back from Vietnam, things weren’t good. But it’s much, much better now, and much more respect today, much more thanks.”
For more information on how to participate in next year’s Hometown Holidays, visit their website at http://www.rockvillehometownholidays.com/.