On Monday, Commerce City hosted its annual Memorial Day parade and filled the streets surrounding Central Elementary School. Clusters of motorcycles, chorusing firetrucks, and waving banners drew families and friends to the curbsides.
Bertha Soria, who lives on a corner across from the elementary school, spent her eighteenth year watching the Commerce City Memorial Day parade from her front yard. The celebration, and the holiday in its entirety, means a lot to Bertha as she has multiple veterans in her family.
“My brother, my uncle, my other uncle, and my other uncle, who passed away, all served in the army, navy, and air force. I always call up my brother and two uncles on Memorial Day.”
Having grown up in a military family, Bertha says these types of celebrations and ceremonies have always been important to her. She reminisces on the days when she lived in Texas,
“I got used to the types of parades with big floats and flower parades in Texas. The parades here are much different. This parade consists more of actual stuff going on in the community.”
Waving to the public from the streets were firemen, policemen, band students, political campaigners, and local vendors. The simplicity of it all—a community gathered to honor thousands of brave and selfless souls—reminds folks that hope, love, and compassion are still present in our chaos-stricken world.
Similarly, Bertha’s story reminds us that while surroundings can change, the devotion we have to our loved ones does not.
“I lived in Texas, but my husband lived up here in Colorado. I moved up here with him and we bought the house in 2001. When we first bought the house, we used to walk around the block together and get to know our neighbors. I didn’t know anyone, being from Texas. But he knew everyone because he was raised in Commerce City.”
“When my husband was alive, his whole family would come over for the parade and we would have a big barbecue. We would put out a tent and chairs early that morning so we would all have a place to sit during the parade. We’d make breakfast tacos, have a barbecue for lunch, and make drinks. It was really fun. I would even make popsicles for kids running around during the parade.”
As Bertha tells her Memorial Day stories from the years passed, she glances down her street, as if to make note of her ever-changing surroundings. She points to the half-built apartments down the street from her house, intrigued by the thought of getting so many new neighbors in the upcoming months.
“The people in my neighborhood are always changing. Most of them move out after two years or so. My neighbors are always different, even though I’m always here.”
Though her neighbors may change, you can always find Bertha, year after year, peacefully watching the parade from her lawn with red, white, and blue streamers in her ponytail. True to the spirit of Memorial Day, Bertha reminds us of the importance of remembrance. Remembrance makes the heroes we have lost not of the past, but part of our present and future.