Brother, Can You Loan 'em A Drum?
Except for long ago days, when my dad and his homies were overseas serving in World War II, the
National Band from the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 47 has marched in Uniontown's
Americanism Day Parade.
This 2011 year, marking the 78th year of the annual Americanism Parade, likely will pass by as the
only other time when Pete Porecca, post commander and band president, and the other band
members will not participate.
In these recent times, the post has fallen on bad economic times. Five months ago, four trustees
who have been placed in charge of reorganizing the post, locked the building and halted the bingos
and club members from using its social club.
Behind the locked doors, also are the tubas, trumpets, and other musical instruments that band
members cannot have to use in tomorrow's parade. That the instruments are not property
officially owned by the post, but property of the band, should have, but did not change the
trustees' minds to return the musical instruments to Pete and the band. Not even for a loan of a
few hours. No kidding!
Tomorrow's 78th annual Americanism Day parade in Uniontown will feature veteran organizations,
fire trucks, marching bands, and likely a few smiling politicians seeking re-election, but not the
oldest band that started the very first Americanism Parade. The VFW Post 47 band took a stand
in protest when a group of communists asked the city for permission to hold a parade on May
1,1934, to coincide with the annual May Day parade in Moscow.
Not only have they been the spirit of the parades each year, about 20 or so years ago, Pete and
the band were the ONLY band in the parade during a torrential rainfall. They still marched and
played on the entire route as though it were a dry, sunny evening, prompting some bystanders to
stay until they passed along the route.
Pete and the members of the band are no spring chickens, obviously. In their younger days, they
performed all over the country and for five presidents in the years after the band was more
formally organized in 1949. They have not since 1947 missed an Americanism Day parade. Till now.
Perhaps the National Band from VFW Post 47 will still march without their instruments playing, as
some well-wishers and supporters urge them to do.
Perhaps someone of influence in time can get the doors of the shuttered post opened long enough
for the band to retrieve the instruments.
Perhaps some of the high school band members will make good on their claims that they will hand
the VFW Post 47 their instruments to play instead, if the elderly men come to march.
Perhaps the politicians running for re-election might even realize how many votes they got each
time from the post -- or the value of the possible photo op of doing so -- and rent the band some
instruments for a day as a gesture to gain votes in the upcoming primary election.
Or perhaps this truly signifies an end of an era, although Pete and the band clearly have the
physical strength to march and play on this year and perhaps years longer.
Too bad the Communists are not coming to Uniontown again in 2011 to organize another May Day
Possibly, even current-day Communists might be so genuinely touched by the situation and spirit of
Pete's National Band from the VFW Post 47, that they would offer to loan the locals their Russian
instruments to play in the 78th Annual Americanism Parade.
with thanks to
Boz Scaggs and the late Duane Allman for the inspiration with their classic tune