Veterans Day Parade
By Kaliga Rice| Hartselle Enquirer
Veterans Day (also known as Armistice Day and Remembrance Day), is a time people recognize veterans for the courage, integrity, selflessness and leadership they exhibit while serving their country. In honor of the holiday and all veterans, Hartselle held its sixth annual Veterans Day Parade at the depot located on Railroad Street.
The actual parade took place at 11 a.m., but before the parade began, there was a Veterans Day Ceremony. During the ceremony, Robert “Bob” Dotson introduced the guests who would be speaking throughout the celebration, one of whom was Hartselle’s Mayor, Randy Garrison.
Garrison welcomed the people of Hartselle to the Veterans Day Parade and explained how important it is to honor and respect veterans for the many sacrifices they made to protect the United States.
“Thank you doesn’t seem like enough,” Garrison said of the veterans during his speech.
Arthur Orr, a member of the Alabama Senate, also gave a speech during the event, thanking the veterans for their service.
After Orr, Alabama Representative and veteran of the Air Force, Ed Henry, gave his deliverance. During his speech, Henry read the military oath, which states that the person being enlisted in the military has to “solemnly swear” to “support and protect the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”
William Buchanan, a veteran of the Marine Corps, said that Henry reading a portion of the oath had an effect on him.
“It brought back a lot of memories. Memories of standing there and reading the oath for the first time, with all of your hopes and dreams. The oath makes you feel like you can make a difference,” he said.
Henry looked at veterans with admiration as he stated that precisely 7.3 percent of the world’s population are veterans.
“Look at how much has been done by so few,” the Air Force veteran said as his speech came to a close.
The last speech that was delivered was that of Major General Allan Harrell of the Alabama National Guard. Harrell’s speech was a tribute to all veterans, but it gave parade goers an overview of World War II, the Cold War, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and Desert Shield-Desert Storm, listing an array of statistics, like how much money the veterans were paid, if they were drafted to the war they served in or if they volunteered to go to war.
General Harrell listed some of the achievements the veterans obtained during war as well.
“Because of your veterans, the countries of Eastern Europe are freed today,” Harrell said, explaining to parade attendees the accomplishments of the Cold War Veterans.
“Regardless of the conflict, your veterans were motivated by selfless service,” he said and recognized all veterans –not just the ones who served in the wars he listed–for their altruistic acts.
With this statement, the ceremony was concluded, and the parade began.
The Hartselle Marching Band led the parade while wearing their brilliant red and white uniforms and playing a patriotic melody. The Falkville Marching Band, Danville Marching Band, Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, and Girl Scouts also participated in the parade, and, of course, veterans had a role in the parade as well. Some drove motorcycles, some drove tractors, and others just preferred to walk.
Veterans Day is usually a very special day for all veterans. For many, this may be the only time they get acknowledged for their service.
When asked what Veterans Day means Jimmie Knop, a member of the 196th Americal Division, he said, “Freedom and finally getting recognized.”
Knop said that he loved Hartselle’s Veterans Day Parade.
“I just wish there was more,” he said.
The meaning of Veterans Day varies with each person, but for William Buchanan, a Marine Corps Veteran, he said Veterans Day is about the sacrifices he and other men and women made for their country.
“It means that I sacrifice and served my country proudly, with no regrets,” he said.
Buchanan said he enjoys being a veteran and his favorite thing about it is being able to see that what he did was not in vain.
“It was to see that we still have our freedom, which is what I fought for,” he said.
As far as recognition goes, many veterans may argue that they are not recognized for what they do and have done, but Buchanan said that he is recognized as much he should be.
“I didn’t do it for the recognition,” he said.
Many veterans seem to be looking forward to the program next year as Hartselle’s Veterans Day Parade gives them the respect and glorification they feel they deserve.