TERRE HAUTE —
A sleepy Sunday morning came alive as patriots lined a street that was filled with flags and military uniforms.
Terre Haute’s annual Veterans Day parade marched onward, despite being on a Sunday. By 10:15 a.m., Wabash Avenue was blocked from Fourth to 12th streets and color guards were stepping east along the route.
Taylor Troy, 17, was among the hundreds of supporters gathered along the route, picking up candy thrown by participants from passing cars. Supporting the Veterans Day activities is important, she said, “to remember everyone who died for us.”
Local Boy Scouts passed out flags to be waved from the sidewalks. Afterward, Dalton Boyles, 14, of Troop 24, said the scouts wanted to help show their appreciation for the service offered by America’s military.
“We had a good time,” the South Vermillion High School student said.
Sunday morning’s cloudy sky contained breezy temperatures nearing 60 degrees, and Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett and Chief of Police John Plasse led the procession down Wabash Avenue. Convoys of motorcycles, the Terre Haute North Vigo High School Marching Band, the Terre Haute South Vigo High School JROTC and Vigo County Air Force JROTC also participated in uniform.
By 10:48, the crowds had moved north and east to VFW Post 972 at 12th and Mulberry streets, where the motorcycles and school buses filled the side streets. The uniforms of high school JROTC units blended with leather jackets bearing unit insignias and with field jackets from the Vietnam War.
Beginning at 11 a.m., cannons fired aerial blasts every minute for the next 11 minutes. Each year, Veterans Day is celebrated on the 11th day of the 11th month, and local tradition is to begin the post-parade ceremony at the 11th minute of the 11th hour, participants explained.
Bennett thanked the crowd, which filled the VFW parking lot and spilled into the street. Their attendance and participation helps honor those who served, he said.
“It’s especially neat to see how many of the older veterans are here wearing their uniforms, proud of what they’ve done,” he said, remarking that his own father served in World War II.
The fact that America was able to conduct a peaceful election this past week is in large part thanks to the veterans, he pointed out, encouraging people to thank them for their service.
Plasse, who served two tours of duty in Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, encouraged the crowd to remember those still on duty.
“Let’s not forget the thousands that remain overseas protecting us, those who continue to fight,” he said.
From the Civil War through today, five Vigo County residents have earned the National Medal of Honor, he said. Since the town’s 19th century origins, its citizens have contributed to the nation’s military in each of its conflicts.
“Please remember them. It shows the price of freedom. It’s never free,” Plasse said.
Clifford Stephens, commander of the Vigo County Veterans Council, announced the creation of a new Veterans Memorial Park, which will be located outside Indiana State University’s Hulman Memorial Stadium next spring on Memorial Day.
“And remember those that paid the ultimate price for our freedom,” Stephens said.
Brian Boyce can be reached at 812-231-4253 or firstname.lastname@example.org.