In step with mem­o­ries and mil­i­tary

Veter­ans Day pa­rade rouses pride, re­spect

Las Vegas Review-Journal (Sunday) - - NEVADA & THE WEST - By Kim­ber Laux

As mil­i­tary veter­ans marched down Fourth Street un­der a clear blue sky and a mas­sive Amer­i­can flag strung be­tween two firetruck lad­ders, by­standers waved tiny flags and shouted thank-yous from the side­walks.

Hun­dreds of peo­ple gath­ered Satur­day morn­ing in down­town Las Ve­gas to honor the men and women who have served and cur­rently serve in the mil­i­tary. This year’s Veter­ans Day pa­rade also paid trib­ute to veter­ans who are first re­spon­ders as well.

Gary Mor­ri­son, 67, who served in the Air Force for 21 years, com­pleted a three-year tour in Viet­nam and was later sta­tioned in Taipei, Tai­wan, for four years.

He was at­tend­ing the pa­rade to watch his grand­son, who held the flag for Ran­cho High School’s Air Force JROTC in the pa­rade.

“We’re a mil­i­tary fam­ily,” said Mor­ri­son, whose son cur­rently serves in the Air Force. “It means a lot to me that maybe (my grand­son) will fol­low in my foot­steps.”

Mor­ri­son, who en­listed in the Air Force right out of high school, moved with his fam­ily to Las Ve­gas from West Vir­ginia in 1970.

“When I came back from Viet­nam … they didn’t like us. But when I came back from Tai­wan, it was dif­fer­ent,” Mor­ri­son said. “Peo­ple are

more into how the veter­ans came back. … They’re pay­ing more at­ten­tion to them now, which is a great feel­ing.”

Last­ing bonds

Bob Richards, 73, of Al­bu­querque, New Mex­ico, and Earl Schorpp, 70, of Carlisle, Penn­syl­va­nia, marched in the pa­rade as part of a group of veter­ans who served in Viet­nam be­tween 1968 and 1971. The group also was in town for its an­nual re­union.

“We’re to some ex­tent a band of broth­ers,” Richards said. “We forged some re­la­tion­ships back then that have been re­newed in the last 15 years that we’ve been do­ing these reunions.”

Schorpp said the group was only 15 mem­bers strong at its first re­union in 2001. Its num­bers have since climbed to 60 or 70 mem­bers.

Al­though the veter­ans didn’t estab­lish tra­di­tional friend­ships in Viet­nam be­cause they served in dif­fer­ent ca­pac­i­ties and at dif­fer­ent times, the group has bonded over shared ex­pe­ri­ences, Richards said.

“We like each other gen­er­ally,” he said. “It’s also im­por­tant to re­new those con­tacts be­cause we’re fad­ing away, not quite as fast as the World War II gen­er­a­tion, but we like to see each other be­fore some­one else is gone.”

Schorpp said pa­rades such as Satur­day’s are im­por­tant to veter­ans from the Viet­nam era be­cause they re­turned home in­di­vid­u­ally and weren’t al­ways greeted with grat­i­tude.

“There was a lot of protest about the war,” he said. “And back then, if you hated the war, you also hated the war­rior.”

Richards nod­ded.

“This has been a lot of heal­ing for us, par­tic­i­pat­ing in these Las Ve­gas Veter­ans Day pa­rades, with all the thank-yous and the signs,” Richards said.

But Schorpp said it’s be­cause Viet­nam veter­ans were treated so poorly when they re­turned from war that sol­diers com­ing home from Iraq and Afghanistan have been given the re­spect they de­serve.

Mak­ings of a tra­di­tion

Chris Cal­la­han, 42, brought his son and two daugh­ters to the pa­rade to watch a client, who was an Army ranger in Viet­nam, march in the pa­rade.

“We wanted to come down here and pay our re­spects and give him our thanks,” Cal­la­han said. “I have young kids, and I’d like to teach them what Veter­ans Day is all about.”

Gavin Cal­la­han, 10, shook a minia­ture Amer­i­can flag, seek­ing to cap­ture the at­ten­tion of a man driv­ing a large, olive-green mil­i­tary ve­hi­cle. His ef­forts paid off, as the driver leaned on the ve­hi­cle’s train­grade horn, the sound re­ver­ber­at­ing among the build­ings.

Gavin’s fa­vorite part of the pa­rade was “watch­ing all of the peo­ple that served our coun­try drive by and stuff,” he said. “They served our coun­try for a good rea­son.”

Cal­la­han’s daugh­ters, 6-year-old Madi­son and 9-year-old Kelsey, watched the pa­rade in­tently from col­lapsi­ble chairs as an­other high school JROTC marched by to the per­sis­tent beat of snare drums. He said it was their first Veter­ans Day pa­rade.

“We’re go­ing to make it more of a tra­di­tion,” Cal­la­han said.

Chase Stevens Las Ve­gas Re­view-Jour­nal @cssteven­sphoto

Pa­rade par­tic­i­pants from MGM Re­sorts march down­town on Satur­day to com­mem­o­rate Veter­ans Day.

Viet­nam vet­eran Ster­ling Tay­lor, of Hen­der­son, has a hand­shake for Cruz Pre­ci­ado, 2, of Las Ve­gas, dressed in a fire­fighter out­fit, dur­ing Satur­day’s pa­rade.

Chase Stevens Las Ve­gas Re­view-Jour­nal @cssteven­sphoto

Chris Cal­la­han stands by with his fam­ily as the pa­rade in down­town Las Ve­gas marches past them.

Mayor Carolyn Good­man and husband Os­car take in the Veter­ans Day pa­rade.

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