Column: We need to be 'united'

Deborah Rose

Deborah Rose

Deborah Rose / Hearst Connecticut Media

On any given day, the sound of wailing sirens signals an emergency.

But not last Sunday.

The loud sirens that traveled swiftly on the spring air were welcome as Water Witch Hose Co. #2 led a Parade of Unity throughout town to show its support for the community and bring a little cheer to residents who are staying at home during this pandemic (see centerpiece photo, this page).

The sounds of multiple sirens from fire trucks, ambulances and police cars, and the beeps from Public Works trucks and others were a celebration of sorts, a way to communicate and unite with all during this surreal time in our lives.

Sunday’s event was the first half of a two-day event. The parade will travel through the second half of town this Sunday.

There couldn’t have been a more perfect day for the parade. It kicked off on one of the most beautiful days of the year.

A bright blue sky lifted our gaze upward, rather than down toward our hands that are dry, cracked and sore from repeated washing with soap and water and hand sanitizer.

And a light, warm breeze gave a lift to our hair that for many of us hadn’t been sun kissed in weeks.

I gathered my children and headed to the Village Green, the first part of town through which the parade would pass.

With my children at my side, we made our way to the south end of the Green and watched closely as other families gathered in small groups, too.

Like us, many of them donned face masks, and kept their distance from one another.

I prepped my camera to take pictures for the paper and my mind filled with weighted thoughts as the reality of the day struck me.

This, this time in our life is so historical, I thought to myself.

I glanced down at my children and thought about their future.

What will they tell their children and grandchildren about this time?

Will they recall this moment in their lives when we attended a parade such as this and remember what it meant?

The sound of sirens distracted me from my thoughts. I turned my attention to the bright red trucks heading toward us.

The sirens were loud, real loud at first. And then they faded into the warmth of the day as tears began to slip down my face.

Residents gathered on the Green extended their hands upward and waved, and some called our “thank you” and “God bless.”

The drivers of the parade vehicles and their passengers waved back and smiled.

The smiles were wide and bright. And they remained so as the parade traveled throughout town.

I drove around with the kids, keeping slightly ahead of the parade and periodically stopped to take more photographs before visiting a friend’s house to watch the whole parade again.

As the sirens faded after passing my friend’s house, I looked over to my longtime friend, who was many feet away from me on the grass, and saw her pink cheeks glistening in the mid-afternoon sun.

She was crying, not because she was sad, but because she was, as I had been on the Green, moved.

For a short time, we felt connected to the world — and with people — in a different way.

We felt united.

This, this is what a community is about, I thought. This is what humanity is about. Coming together.

During this unprecedented time in modern history — as the coronavirus pandemic continues to sweep across the globe, with 3.5 million confirmed cases and at least 251,059 deaths globally, according to a real-time tracker at Johns Hopkins University as of press time Tuesday — we, as humans, look for something to ground us, something to remind us of the good in this world, something to make us feel less alone.

Although it may feel as if our world is unraveling into complete chaos and we cannot think straight, we are bound together on this journey and can find comfort — even a little — in knowing we are not alone.

We all face similar struggles, fears and doubts.

We have all experienced some sort of emotion about this time in our lives, albeit disappointment because we cannot visit friends and family as we once did, sorrow and grief because a loved one died due to complications related to COVID, worry because a job was lost due to the tough economic times, fear because of the uncertainty of tomorrow, worry because we don’t know when or how we will resume our lives as they once were, or joy because neighbors are helping neighbors.

Although it may feel as if a heavy, gray cloud hangs over this world and there is such a long way to go to get through this, we will persevere — in time.

In the meantime, we must remember we are all connected by the thread of humanity.

When we feel helpless and disconnected, look around — look to neighbors, friends, strangers at the grocery store, the doctors and nurses treating COVID patients at hospitals, the wait staff and cooks working extra hard to provide takeout meals and delivery at restaurants, the men and women who are delivering boxes and groceries to our doorstep, the health workers treating elders and the ill at their homes, the men and women who participated in Sunday’s parade, and so many others.

We are no different.

We all strive to be safe and healthy and be connected to one another somehow, because it is through connection we find compassion, kindness, love and a greater understanding of ourselves and the world around us.

For more information about the Parade of Unity this Sunday, visit “Water Witch Hose Co. #2 of New Milford” on Facebook.

Deborah Rose is a lifelong New Milford resident who has worked at The Spectrum since its inception in 1998. She can be reached by email at