Veterans Day traces its origins back to the ending of World War 1, “The War to end all Wars.” The actual hostilities of World War I ended on Nov. 11, 1918, the day was then declared Armistice Day by President Wilson. Since then, every Nov. 11 has been set aside to honor the great feats of courage and heroism of the men and women who serve this nation.
An annual tradition in Fayetteville that shows gratitude towards these veterans is the Veterans Day Parade. This year it is specifically focused on honoring the veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom-Afghanistan.
“Over the past few years we have honored veterans from the Vietnam War, the Iraq War, the Korean War and this year is the Afghanistan War. We have a theme each year,” said George Breece parade co-chair.
This year the parade is bigger than ever with more than 2,000 participants marching through Historic Downtown Fayetteville the morning of Nov. 8. For first time attendees, Breece explains, “They should expect an opportunity to be a part of honoring our Afghanistan War veterans past present and future. We are going to have 90 units in the parade. Some are military. We will have people from the XVIII Airborne Corps, the 82nd Airborne Division, the United States Army Special Operation Command, some Air Force personnel from Pope Army Airfield and from the U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command. These units will have military equipment with them, as well.
“We also have some military bands in the parade, and five high school bands. All ROTC units from Cumberland County are going to march together. There are representatives from the American Legion, The Veterans of Foreign Wars and Disabled American Veterans. It is also wonderful that the parade is broadcast live on WRAL and again on UNC T.V.,” he concluded.
This year the theme of honoring the veterans of the Afghanistan war extends to the official Grand Marshalls of the parade. “Our Grand Marshalls this year are Gen. (Ret) Dan K. McNeill and Command Sgt. Maj. (Ret) Steven R. England. They were both among the first to go into Afghanistan. Our Honorary Parade Chairs for the parade are Lt. Gen. Joe Anderson and Command Sgt. Maj. Isaia Vimoto. They are both currently serving in Afghanistan,” Breece said.
Though there are many challenges in organizing more than 2,000 participants into a cohesive event, the dedication of those involved in the Veterans Day Parade guarantees an amazing event every year.
“This is a labor of love and the challenges are just things that you work through,” Breece said. “Seeing the veterans that have served in all these conflicts take part in this and seeing their excitement … being able to honor those who serve in all branches is very rewarding. There are lots of moving parts to this. It’s something that you have to stay on top of, but when it all comes together, it is worth every second, every hour, every day that you put into it. “
The Veterans Day Parade is on Saturday, Nov. 8, beginning at 10 a.m. along Hay Street. It is free for the public. For more information, visit www.ccveteranscouncil.org or call 910-920-0045.
Photo: The Veteran’s Day Parade is set for Nov. 8 at 10 a.m.