Annual salute

Monday dawned crisp and cold, but hundreds of people still lined Putnam Street for Marietta’s 2013 Veterans Day parade, including a group of 18 children from the Marietta Family YMCA’s Learning Center.

“We celebrate this day to thank our veterans for keeping us safe and making our country free,” 11-year-old Hunter Vincent explained as the group waited in front of city hall for the parade to pass by.

“My great grandpa, Floyd Keerps, is an Army veteran,” added Danielle Keerps, 8.

Staff member Debbie Hockenberry said the children were learning why the day is important.

“We explained all about Veterans Day before bringing them to the parade this morning,” she said.

Tom Jones of Vincent brought four of his grandchildren to Monday’s parade.

“I’m doing this in memory of a nephew, Darrell Ray Jones, Jr., who served in the Navy and died in Iraq,” he said. “But it’s also to honor my four brothers who are veterans.”

Jones noted of all the annual parades in Marietta the Veterans Day parade in recent years has been one of the least attended.

“I’m kind of disappointed because this has been one of the smaller parades when it should be the largest,” he said.

As it turned out this year’s procession was a bit longer than past parades, with several units from veterans organizations, including six members of Bravo Company, 3rd/506th Infantry, 101st Airborne Division who served under local U.S. Army vet Jim Waybright.

“Thank you for your service, sir,” the group called out to individual veterans standing along Putnam Street Monday morning.

“These six men and I served together in 1970, and three were injured in Vietnam,” Waybright said during ceremonies following the parade in East Muskingum Park.

He introduced the six, including Bill Sorg, Norm Friend and Rick Brown of Ohio, Ron Gooch and Ben Currin from North Carolina, and Bruce Dancesia from New York. All six came to Marietta to help celebrate Veterans Day.

Marietta Mayor Joe Matthews provided some historical background for the Veterans Day celebration.

“The world rejoiced on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918,” he said. “(World War I) the war to end all wars had ended.”

Matthews said one year later, in November 1919, President Woodrow Wilson declared Nov. 11 as Armistice Day.

In 1938 the U.S. Congress made Nov. 11 an annual federal holiday. After WWII, in 1954, the name “Armistice Day” was changed to Veterans Day.

“We must also remember the missing in action and prisoners of war in our thoughts and prayers,” Matthews said. “And never forget those who have served our country during the darkest wars.”

George Goodman, a Navy veteran from Marietta who served from 1988 to 2008, attended the ceremonies in full uniform.

“I’m usually working on Veterans Day, so this is the first time I’ve been able to attend,” he said. “I’m proud to have served, and it makes me proud to see how our community supports the veterans. And this is my way of showing support for those who served before me. They all deserve the recognition.”