11/12/04 — Veterans appreciate local parade

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Veterans appreciate local parade

By Sam Atkins
Published in News on November 12, 2004 2:02 PM

Steve Ludwig stood on the side of Center Street wearing a hat with an American Flag design on it.

A sense of pride and excitement filled his face as he awaited the arrival of his daughter, who was participating in her first Wayne County Veterans Day Parade. She was with Girl Scout Troop 231 at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

Ludwig said his family comes to the parade every year. He served with the U.S. Air Force's 18th Security Police and was stationed in Okinawa, Japan. He was injured and placed on a temporary retirement list and has worked at Seymour Johnson since 1992.

"It gives me goose bumps," he said, as he looked at people waving American flags honoring those who are in the military now and the ones who died serving the United States.

The annual parade on Thursday began at the 200 block of South Center Street. It was sponsored by the Wayne County Veterans and Patriots Coalition.

Around 65 groups participated in the parade, including area fraternal organizations; bands; the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts and Brownies; National Guard members and vehicles; active-duty military personnel from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base; and members of the Wayne County Sheriff's Office, Goldsboro Police Department and area fire departments. Several veterans groups participated, including the Purple Heart Association, American Legion, and Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Many distinguished visitors were on the viewer's stand. Retired Col. James Hiteshew of Pikeville was the master of ceremonies and announced the parade units as they passed. Hiteshew was a POW in Vietnam for almost six years.

Also in attendance were local officials; Col. Mike Holmes, 4th Fighter Wing commander at Seymour Johnson; and Col. Paul Sykes, 916th Air Refueling Wing commander.

Rose Whaley from Pink Hill read a poem titled "Will the Circle Be Broken." Her grandfather is a veteran of World War I and World War II. Senior Master Sgt. Dolly Witt from Seymour Johnson was the emcee for the event.

Robert Brown, 62, a retired E-5 with the U.S. Army's 22nd Supply Company, watched the parade with his wife, Rosetta. He served in the Army for eight years, which included two tours in the Vietnam War. He arrived early to the parade to get a good spot along Center Street.

"I really think veterans should always be honored; it shows respect for what we did," he said. "We have a freedom that other countries don't have and it is through the work of the military that we maintain that freedom."

Following the parade, there was a wreath-laying ceremony at the Doughboy Statue on the Walnut Street side of the Wayne County Courthouse. During the ceremony, military, civic and governmental leaders paid tribute to all veterans.

Col. Holmes, 4th Fighter Wing commander, said Veterans Day originally began as a celebration of peace. "During World War I, our nation and our allies fought 'the war to end all wars.' The guns finally fell silent over the battlefields of Europe on Nov. 11, 1918," he said.

Great Britain and France commemorated the end of the war as Armistice Day. President Woodrow Wilson later directed that Armistice Day be an annual celebration, he added.

World War II and the Korean War followed and citizens recommended that the men and women who served in those wars also deserved recognition. In 1953, President Dwight Eisenhower renamed it Veterans Day.

Earlier this year was the 60th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Normandy in World War II. More than 16 million Americans served in that war and about 4 million remain alive today. About 1,100 World War II veterans pass away each day, added Holmes.

He said the nation is at war again on this Veterans Day and the war on terrorism will likely last many years.

"The men and women of the 4th Fighter Wing have answered the call to defend this great nation just as so many have before them. I'm proud of these young kids who have performed heroically and continue to do so today," he added.

Holmes and Barbara Newman, a "Vietnam Gold Star Wife," placed the wreath in front of the Doughboy.