Open Forum: Tradition . . .

Posted: May 3, 2013

“This is how it starts . . .”

I was aghast today (as I am sure many were) to read that the march to John Handley’s tomb was not to be rescheduled. It is another opportunity for many of us who have either grown up in this fine area or raised their family here to shake their heads in disbelief.

This is how it starts. Some administrator or faceless committee comes up with “weather” and/or the famous “scheduling conflicts” why the march will not happen this year, and then it becomes easier and easier as the years go by for other reasons (like religious objections) that this grand and solemn tradition will fade into memory.

We see this in almost every facet of our lives from something as simple as a manger scene, to Scouts selling Christmas trees in public areas, and even the Pledge of Allegiance fading from many schools. We are told to be “tolerant” of many faiths, even when some of that faith would preach to murder innocent people. We are told we are “racist” if we do not accept every “orientation” and way of life, even at the expense of others. We live in a time when the few want their way of life to be the new normal for the many.

Tradition is the fabric that holds a community together. Tradition is what changes a “town” or a “city” into our home. Tradition is mortar that holds the foundation of our children’s early lives and those memories that they carry forward to their children. Tradition is what gives hope to many at the turning of a New Year and the wonder of taking it all in during Apple Blossom. Tradition is what brings, families, friends, and even foes together for brief times.

When we lose traditions, we lose a few more threads that hold us together. Tradition is not defined by political party or race. Tradition can be as grand as riding the float and waving to the crowds, or as small as putting on that varsity jacket or singing the National Anthem at the game.

We have many able men and women running our schools and our city and county who were not born and/or raised here. I would assume that not only the promise of a good job, but also the area and her traditions were additional reasons to come. They were welcomed to become part of the community, not change it to what they want it to be. I would tell these folks without hesitation that they came here; we did not come to them.

Don’t change our traditions based on what is administratively expedient for a few. I personally am getting tired of watching things go by the wayside by sleight-of-hand — and stroke of pen — and most of us just sit and watch it happen.

This is my home, and it is your home. John Handley High School, the Handley Library, WPS, and Winchester on a larger scale would not be what it is without Judge Handley’s stewardship and his love for area. I didn’t even go to Handley and I understand that.

Canceling the march for only the second time in more than 20 years is an insult to John Handley’s legacy, and a tradition in Winchester. I would urge all residents who hold this tradition important not only to our kids, but to the larger community, to petition their School Board representative and councilor to have WPS find time to “work it in.”

I would favor going back to the tradition of holding the march on the last day of school, where the students go away for the summer by honoring someone who did so much for Winchester and asked for nothing in return.

Paul Lewis is a resident of Winchester.