BUCKHANNON – The Veterans Day Parade made a return Nov. 11 after the 2020 event was canceled due to COVID-19.
The well-attended parade commenced at 9 a.m. and ended at Jawbone Park, where representatives from American Legion Post 7, VFW Post 3663 and Buckhannon mayor Robbie Skinner spoke to the crowd and attending veterans.
“I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank all of the veterans that are present today, those who have fallen and those who could not be with us for this occasion,” Skinner said. “Thank you – that is what we’re here for – thank you for your service to the United States of America.”
Skinner outlined the history of Veterans Day and how it came to be.
“It was originally known as Armistice Day, declared on Nov. 11, 1918, which was the agreement to end the First World War and then exactly one year later on Nov. 11, 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the first observance of Armistice Day and so on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month each year since that speech he gave, proclaiming the occasion in 1919, our nation pauses to celebrate and commemorate the bloodshed and the lives dedicated to protecting our freedoms,” Skinner said. “In 1954, Congress passed, and President Dwight Eisenhower signed legislation changing Armistice Day to celebrate all veterans, thus calling it Veterans Day.”
Skinner illustrated the importance of observing Veterans Day, which celebrates the bravery of all veterans as well as currently serving military members, and Memorial Day, a commemoration of the soldiers who died in battle, never came home, or were classified as prisoners of war or missing in action.
“Veterans are recognized as men and women who have or who are serving the United States Armed Forces, and Veterans Day is a celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love for our country, willingness to serve and sacrifice for our freedom and our way of life,” Skinner said. “Although it is distinctly different from Memorial Day, Veterans Day is also a day of reflection and remembrance of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, so that we may stand right here today.”
He reflected on the sacrifices and commitments veterans make to serve their country.
“On a personal note, I’m 32 years old. I have never been to war, I have never been hurt in battle, I’ve never seen my life flash before my eyes while facing an enemy, I’ve never held a fallen soldier in my arms as he was taking his last breath, I’ve never left my community to fly across the world to fight for our nation,” Skinner said. “I have no idea what that is like, I have no idea what so many of you in the audience today have seen during your years of service to the United States of America – very few of us do. We can never say thank you enough and that’s why we must always ensure that we pause to recognize this day, Veterans Day.”
American Legion Post 7 Commander Warrick Osborn said he was happy to see so many people in attendance.
“Based on the attendance today, it’s clear you hold our nation’s veterans in high esteem. Veterans of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and members of the National Guard continue to promote the spirit of patriotism and Americanism,” Osborn said. “If you’re a veteran, I encourage you to join one or all of these organizations: the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Disabled American Veterans do many things for our community.”
VFW Post 3663 commander Gary McCord repeated the sentiment, but said members had to participate in an overseas campaign to be eligible for the VFW.
“We have to have a campaign ribbon – that means you had to be in an overseas campaign to be eligible,” McCord said. “We have people from World War II, Vietnam, Korea, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and every war from the last several years,” McCord said.
Below are more scenes from Thursday’s parade; all photos by Monica Zalaznik: