The 5th annual Veterans’ Day Parade is set to be held on the 3rd of November at 11 am. This year the Grand Marshall is going to be a WWII POW by the name of Dempsey McLemore, and Dempsey has quite the story to tell. He was part of the 82nd Airborne, and parachuted into France behind enemy lines. His mission was to blow up bridges, destroy power grids and communications systems, and in general, wreak havoc upon and cause mayhem for the Germans. He was captured and held in a German prisoner of war camp. Ultimately he was rescued by the Russians, returned to the States, built a life, and became part of the Greatest Generation. He lives here with his wife, Virginia.
Another participant in the parade will be Lt. General Richard Formica, who is the Commander of the U.S. Army Space and Missile Command/Army Forces Strategic Command at Redstone Arsenal.
I mentioned that this is the 5th Annual Veterans’ Day Parade, and the fact that it is only the 5th one makes me wonder, why? I know it’s football season, people are busy, and no one needs any more guilt dished on them. I also know that for most of my life I looked upon Veterans’ Day as a time when there would be good sales being held, it would be a three day weekend, and the banks would be closed. I was disconnected from the whole meaning of the day, as is the case with many, I am afraid.
Why should we bother to take a little more than an hour out of our day to stand in what could be really chilly weather and watch some floats, marching bands and horse riders go by while we wave at them? So many reasons, the first being that, as actor Tom Hanks has said so famously, “It’s time to say thank you.” The Veterans of WWII are not getting any younger, and these treasures need to be treasured before they are gone forever. Same for Veterans of the Korean War, often referred to as the “Forgotten War.” I had the experience of saying “thank you” to a Korean War vet who is the father of a friend a few years back, and he said I was the FIRST one in his entire life to do so! What a shame.
In wouldn’t hurt to take the time to thank those who fought in Vietnam, either. In a “former life,” people like me made life hell for people like them, and while being vilified is incredibly tough, I think that it is actually worse to be ignored, which is something I am afraid is going to happen to those who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
So, if you can, and I really do mean that without an ounce of snark, take the time to come out on November 3rd You can reflect for a moment on the courage of those who have put themselves in harm’s way, either long ago or just recently, so that you and people you’ll never meet can be free to go to a parade in the first place.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner