Earlier this year, I saw the play Talk Radio. One of the lines in the play (paraphrasing, I just don’t have that sharp a memory): “There is a difference between a brave man and a coward. Both feel fear. The difference is that a coward runs away. A brave man runs toward it.”

I thought about that today during New Milford’s Memorial Day Parade. My Dad was in the Navy, serving aboard the USS Independence during the Cuban Missile Crisis as part of squadron VF-84’s “ground” crew (see the documentation on this here: I remember him telling me that the day he saw all of those ships on the horizon he said to himself, “I stood there and thought, ‘I’m going to die today.’ I decided I was okay with that, and then I lit up a cigarette waited for orders.”

My Dad in his Navy days. This was taken when he was stationed in Memphis, TN, in 1960.

The raw courage of those words didn’t really strike me until this morning, when I had the privilege of going up to see Nathan, who is a Mason, march with his lodge—St. Peter’s Masonic Lodge No. 21 of New Milford, CT—in New Milford’s Memorial Day Parade (last year he got to ride his motorcycle as part of the Mason’s Widow’s Sons, but the rain this morning made them bag that this time around). There were all sorts of other brave men who turned out to honor our veterans—firemen, police officers, ambulance crews. Most of them spend their lives running toward danger every day, and I’m sure many of them don’t even think twice.

Nathan, at right, in today's parade.

I hope that no matter what you do today—be it a picnic or a parade or just being with the ones you love—that you’ll take a minute to marvel at the courage of so many people in our world who run toward things, and not away from them.

This is my favorite picture of Dad in his Navy days. I have no idea when it was taken or where. I don't even know if he was serious or clowning around, but I love his expression anyway.


I’m a sucker for bagpipes, especially in a parade. Earlier, he played my favorite piece–“Amazing Grace.” But since it was my Dad’s favorite, too, I was too lost in the moment to film it.

Nathan marches during the first leg of the parade. He’s the one who does a quick pivot as he rounds the corner.

The rest of the St. Peter’s contingent.

Nathan marches with the Lodge during the second leg of the parade. They had actually taken a wrong turn and were still laughing about it.

About kristipetersenschoonover

A ghost story writer who still sleeps with the lights on, Kristi Petersen Schoonover’s fiction has appeared in many magazines and anthologies; her traditionally published books include a short story collection, THE SHADOWS BEHIND. She was the recipient of three Norman Mailer Writers Colony Residencies and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College. She serves as co-host of the DARK DISCUSSIONS podcast, as founding editor of the dark literary journal 34 ORCHARD, and is a member of the New England Horror Writers. Follow her adventures at

Posted on May 30, 2011, in Deep Thoughts & Fun Stuff and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Hello again.. SO SO glad you posted about Memorial Day! I loved the parade pics and videos. My dad is also a Mason and was in a parade in NYC. Nathan looks AWESOME!! Looks like life is good…. Hugs from Fla PS… I marvel at all of the old photos that you have. I know how you treasure them. I think the ones of your dad are so handsome!!

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