VFTM: Every rose has its thorn


Yes, and every cheesy song lyric has its grain of truth. Okay, not every single one.

But if you’re not okay with a reference to a Poison song — I know I’m not — let’s just say every peach has its pit. Every cheeseburger has its calorie count? Hell, have some fun and make your own: “Every [joy in life] has its [requisite downside].”

We can even get crazy, move away from fluky catchphrases and put it more broadly: no good thing happens or exists without some related stumbling block. Or as Newton put it: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Veterans ranging from those who served in WWII to those currently serving in the armed forces were honored at the borough's 2010 Memorial Day parade.

This maxim — which, as ever the intractable pessimist, I’ve always held to be self-evident — seemed to betray me when I attended Naugatuck’s Memorial Day parade Monday morning. The weather was beautiful, the parade was suitably exciting, our camera held up, the ceremony was moving and I was home early enough to enjoy my nominal day off. It seemed then that some things are simply good and pure according to their own nature, that sometimes the rose is, indeed, without thorns.

But alas, few and far between are such occasions, as comments at the following borough board meeting informed me (and, perhaps, helped me recall those annoyances my selective memory had buried in favor of patriotism, sunshine and fire trucks).

Not to detract from the parade — it was a truly memorable morning for me, as I hadn’t been to such a celebration for at least ten years prior — but there were a few things bugging the burgesses that I had failed to become adequately annoyed by that day.

First of all, Mindy Fragoso mentioned (and others echoed), why had the borough allowed a tattered flag to be flown at half-mast in front of Town Hall that day? Don’t our war dead deserve better? Did no one notice? Who is to blame?

“I was embarrassed, I was ashamed, but more importantly I think, there might have been people out there, especially the veterans, that might have been more devastated than the average person to see a tattered flag go up on such an important day in our country,” Fragoso said Tuesday.

“I was appalled by it,” added Burgess Bob Burns, a veteran. “I thought it was a real disgrace. I still think it’s a disgrace.”

Burns placed the blame at the feet of Naugatuck Veterans’ Council, but Mayor Bob Mezzo was quick to say Town Hall was responsible, noting “That’s our flag. That’s the borough’s flag. It’s outside my window every day, and I honestly didn’t notice it.”

Okay, that’s strike one, if you’re counting. Mark one against borough governance.

While you’re at it, count two against the general public and perhaps another against borough governance for the state of the green after the parade and the dissipation of the crowd before it was even over.

Burgess Mike Ciacciarella complained of those who left their litter on the green before leaving for the day — but I noticed upon leaving that the trash bins were all overflowing, so no one had any place to dispose of their garbage after a certain point. Tough call for me.

They also wondered why so many people appeared unwilling to wait for the parade’s fourth division, which largely comprised youth sports teams, to pass before packing it in and leaving. This I’ll admit I did notice with some annoyance, as I heard master of ceremonies Tony Marques, a Navy veteran, implore people to stop cutting across Church Street more than once before the procession had officially reached its end.

Obviously the Memorial Day parade is about honoring the men and women who fought and died to protect our freedoms over the course of our history. Accordingly, the veteran’s groups and military units are the main attraction to such an event. But I don’t think that should disqualify anyone else, especially the kids who just want to get a shot at marching.

Last but certainly not least, mark one against political campaigns in general. I heard from several reliable sources that one, if not two, candidates for election in November showed up early Monday morning asking if they could march and hand out literature — you know, campaign. I understand Fran Dambowsky of the Veteran’s Council turned them away. He rightly asserted, as Burgess Hank Kuczenski put it, that “politics have no place in [the] parade.” I couldn’t agree more.

Okay, okay. So what’s the takeaway lesson here? Don’t fly tattered flags on Memorial Day? Don’t litter? Let kids have their fun on occasion? Reject political campaigners every chance you get? Well, all of the above, I guess.

For me, it was a reminder that, yes, even the most virtuous occasions can be marred, however slightly, by infractions, oversights or missteps by the various parties involved.

Every rose has its thorn, even when, as in this case, those thorns are fairly small and insignificant when compared with the overarching beauty of the flower.