Vet­er­ans Pa­rade to be held Nov. 3

Westside Eagle-Observer - - FRONT PAGE - MIKE ECKELS meck­els@nwadg.com

DE­CATUR — Nov. 11 marks a sig­nif­i­cant mile­stone in his­tory, and groups from all over this coun­try will pause to re­mem­ber it with pa­rades and pro­grams.

One hun­dred years ago on Nov. 11, 1918, in a small rail­road box­car on a sid­ing in Com­piegne, France, just out­side of Paris, an ar­mistice agree­ment was signed end­ing what would later be called “the war to end all wars.”

World War I was one of the most de­struc­tive con­flicts in the

world at that time. It be­gan with the as­sas­si­na­tion of Arch­duke Franz Fer­di­nand of Aus­tria and his wife So­phie by a Bos­nian na­tion­al­ist named Gavrilo Prin­cip in the Bos­nian cap­i­tal of Sara­jevo on June 28, 1914. One month later, a war be­tween Ger­many and its al­lies and Rus­sia and its al­lies be­gan.

The Great War lasted a to­tal of four years, three months and two weeks. In all, around 40 mil­lion causal­i­ties oc­curred — 11 mil­lion mil­i­tary and eight mil­lion civil­ian deaths, and 23 mil­lion wounded — mak­ing it one of the dead­li­est con­flicts in hu­man his­tory.

When both sides fi­nally called for an end to the war, an ar­mistice agree­ment was reached on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 call­ing for a ces­sa­tion of hos­til­i­ties. The for­mal end of the war came with the sign­ing of the Treaty of Ver­sailles on June 28, 1919, five years to the date af­ter the as­sas­si­na­tion of Arch­duke Fer­di­nand.

On Novem­ber 28, just 17 days af­ter its sign­ing, Pres­i­dent Woodrow Wil­son signed a procla­ma­tion mak­ing Nov. 11 Ar­mistice Day, a day to pay trib­ute to all mil­i­tary per­son­nel that per­ished in this great war.

Congress passed a for­mal res­o­lu­tion mak­ing Nov. 11 the na­tional day of com­mem­o­ra­tion. In the res­o­lu­tion, Congress wrote:

“Whereas the 11th of Novem­ber 1918, marked the ces­sa­tion of the most de­struc­tive, san­guinary, and far reach­ing war in hu­man an­nals and the re­sump­tion by the peo­ple of the United States of peace­ful re­la­tions with other na­tions, which we hope may never again be sev­ered, and whereas it is fit­ting that the re­cur­ring an­niver­sary of this date should be com­mem­o­rated with thanks­giv­ing and prayer and ex­er­cises de­signed to per­pet­u­ate peace through good will and mu­tual un­der­stand­ing be­tween na­tions…” (www.va.gov)

Ar­mistice Day be­came a le­gal U.S. hol­i­day by an act of Congress on May 13, 1938.

This day of re­mem­brance would go through one more change, due in part to a move­ment by Pres­i­dent Dwight Eisen­hower. The Pres­i­dent was able to change the name from Ar­mistice Day to the hol­i­day we know to­day, Vet­er­ans Day.

All of the vet­er­ans of “the war to end all wars” have passed on into the his­tory books now. But we still re­mem­ber them, as well as all vet­er­ans from the many wars since World War I.

The De­catur Vet­er­ans Com­mit­tee will host its an­nual Vet­er­ans Day Pa­rade and Com­mem­o­ra­tion Cer­e­mony on Nov. 3, be­gin­ning with the pa­rade at 3 p.m. from down­town De­catur to Vet­er­ans Park. All vet­er­ans and their fam­ily mem­bers (in­clud­ing fam­ily mem­bers of de­ceased vet­er­ans) are wel­come to walk or ride in this year’s event. The lineup for the pa­rade will be­gin at 2:30 p.m. on the cor­ner of Third Street and South Main, near the old car­wash.

Fol­low­ing the pa­rade will be the ded­i­ca­tion of a memo­rial tree which was planted be­hind the Howard-Par­rish mon­u­ment in Vet­er­ans Park. This was part of Gover­nor Asa Hutchin­son’s pro­gram to com­mem­o­rate the 100th an­niver­sary of the hol­i­day. The open­ing cer­e­mony be­gins with the post­ing of the col­ors by mem­bers of the Amer­i­can Le­gion Post 29 Honor Guard.

Food and drinks will be pro­vided by the De­catur Vet­er­ans Com­mit­tee. The De­catur High School band, with the help of the North­side mu­sic class, along with the mu­si­cal group “Faith and Free­dom Blue Grass,” will pro­vide pa­tri­otic mu­sic for this year’s event

On Nov. 8, De­catur High School will host its an­nual Vet­er­ans Day assem­bly at 9:30 a.m. at Peter­son Gym in De­catur. Four years ago, Toby Con­rad, high school prin­ci­pal, or­ga­nized this event to bring stu­dents and vet­er­ans to­gether to share the Vet­er­ans Day mes­sage and to honor his own fa­ther who was a mil­i­tary veteran. The pub­lic is in­vited to at­tend this im­por­tant les­son in the joys of free­dom and those who de­fended it.

West­side Ea­gle Ob­server/MIKE ECKELS

Mem­bers of the Vet­er­ans of For­eign Wars Post 9834 wave to the crowd as they pass through down­town De­catur on their way to Vet­er­ans Park dur­ing the Nov. 4, 2017, Vet­er­ans Day Pa­rade. This year’s event takes place Nov. 3, be­gin­ning with the pa­rade at 3 p.m. fol­lowed by the memo­rial tree ded­i­ca­tion and open­ing cer­e­mony at Vet­er­ans Park in De­catur at 3:30 p.m.

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