What is the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day? According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, most Americans don’t know the answer to that question. They just know one is in the spring, the other in the fall. Who we are honoring on these holidays though is significant. Memorial Day is set aside so American’s can pay our respects to service members who have died on our behalf in combat, or as a result of wounds from combat. While fallen service members are also remembered on Veterans Day, it is a day set aside to thank the veterans who are still with us, those who have served honorably in wartime or in peaceful times.  {mosimage}
    On Saturday, Nov. 8, at 11 a.m. the Cumberland County Veterans Council is hosting a parade to celebrate and honor our veterans. Event co-chair Keith Bates listed an impressive number of participants in the parade. There are about 90 entries, including 5 local high school bands, Rolling Thunder, Triple Nickel, VFW Posts and American Legion Posts and several high school JROTC units.
    “There will be an Air Force flyover, an Army helicopter flyover - right through downtown, up and down Hay Street,” said Bates.  
    Some of the 82nd units that have been deployed numerous times overseas to Iraq and Afghanistan will march and display equipment in the parade too. “It’s really a sight to see when they come down,” said Bates. “We’ll be there to show our support for them.” 
    The parade route starts at the intersection of Hay Street and Bragg Boulevard – the Airborne and Special Operations Museum - and goes down Hay Street to the courthouse.
    As a veteran of more than one combat tour, the gravity of what service members endure is not lost on Bates.  “When you go away for 10, 12, 14 months at a time you endure some hardships. You could be living in a tent for 12 months at a time, and you have to make the mad dash 100 yards to the bathroom in 30 degree weather….and then just being there especially when your buddies get killed, it takes a toll,” he said.
    The Cumberland County Veterans Council, made up entirely of veterans, looks forward to being able to support and encourage their brethren with the parade.
    “It is just a way to show our appreciation for the ones that are still serving,” said Bates. “The thing to me is to show our support for the many sacrifices that the men and women are enduring so that we can be free here. We don’t have to worry about getting blown up when we got to the polls, we don’t have to worry about getting harmed when you got to the Obama rally or the McCain rally or to the mall.” 
    While parades are fun, and a great way to say thanks to America’s vets, they are out there every day on our behalf going places and doing things that the rest of us pray we will never have to endure.  It doesn’t have to be Veteran’s Day to say thank you, and it doesn’t always take a parade to show you appreciate what our service members do.  “All you got to do when you see ‘em is just say thank you,” said Bates. “The best way (to thank them) is to just tell them everyday ‘thank you.’” 
    And we do thank you, for your service, your sacrifice and the many freedoms that we have because of you. Thank you.

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