Decatur parade honors area veterans
DECATUR — The peace and tranquility that Decatur residents enjoyed for much of the day were shattered on Saturday by the sounds of sirens, but there was no emergency. The sirens marked the beginning of the second annual Decatur Veterans Day Parade.
More than 100 Decatur area residents lined the parade route from the Decatur Depot to Veterans Park. Several police and fire units from Decatur, Gentry and the Benton County Sheriffs Office — including the Benton County Mobile Command Post and the Benton County Sheriff’s Office armored rescue truck — were scattered throughout the parade.
Leading the parade was the honor guard from the Siloam Springs American Legion Post 29. Behind them were two floats carrying veterans from the HowardParrish chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9834 and American Legion Post 29. Each float was met with cheers of support for the veterans on the floats and all who served in the nation’s military.
The several military vehicles included a modern 2.5ton army truck, a Humvee used by the Gentry Police Department and an original 1919 Liberty B transport truck. The Liberty truck was built in the same year as the signing of the first Armistice Day remembrance now known as Veterans Day.
The Decatur Girl Scout troop, led by Mary Lou Janes, had the only other float in the parade. The float was decorated with several drawings in honor of all veterans.
The Gentry High School marching band provided patriotic music for the parade. This marked the first time that a Gentry band has participated in any Decatur parade in more than five years.
Rounding out the parade was an assortment of civilian vehicles, including a Volkswagen van and truck, a van from Decatur First Baptist Church, and a host of area residents who wanted to remember and honor family members who served in the military.
After the parade, the Decatur Veterans Committee hosted an honor celebration at Veterans Park. Included in this year’s program were Bethany Roberson reading her research paper on the origins of the Veterans Day holiday, Sheldon McKinzie reciting Red Skeleton’s famous “Pledge of Allegiance” skit, and patriotic music by the Gentry and Decatur High School bands. The event ended with a hot dog giveaway.
Sponsoring this year’s event were the Arkansas Chapter 12 of WoodmenLife, Pepsi, the city of Decatur and the Decatur Fire Department.
Members of the Howard-Parrish chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9834 in Decatur were joined by fellow military veterans to lead the Decatur Veterans Parade through downtown Decatur on Nov. 4.