Wayne County pays tribute to veterans
By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on November 12, 2010 1:46 PM
News-Argus/MICHAEL K. DAKOTA
The 2010 Veterans Day Parade drew spectators to Center Street for the annual march in honor of those who have served and are serving in the U.S. armed forces.
For a moment, as a group of airmen from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base marched past her, Destiny Kornegay dismissed the blanket meant to shield her from the cold and picked up an undersized American flag.
"Look Mommy. Look," the 5-year-old said, waving frantically. "Soldiers. Soldiers."
"No baby," her mother, Shondra, replied. "Soldiers are in the Army. They are in the Air Force."
"But Mommy," Destiny said -- a confused look replacing what was, moments earlier, a smile. "You said we were coming to thank the soldiers."
"They are just like soldiers baby," she said. "You can thank them, too."
Destiny might be too young to understand that more than one branch makes up the armed forces, but the fact that she, at such a young age, understood just why her mother bundled her up and brought her to downtown Goldsboro Thursday morning made Ms. Kornegay feel pretty good about the kind of person her daughter is growing into.
"We should all love our country -- thank our veterans," she said. "So my baby just made me proud. Yes you did, baby."
A crowd that spanned the length of Center Street joined Destiny in honoring those who have worn, and still wear, the nation's uniform during the Wayne County Veterans and Patriots Coalition's annual Veterans Day Parade.
Rich Johnson "never" misses it.
"I've been coming for a long time. In my opinion, this is probably the only day we should have a parade," he said. "Our veterans, what they've done, is bigger than Christmas, St. Patrick's Day -- you name it."
And he should know.
"My father fought in World War II. There's not much bigger things out there," Johnson said. "Those boys liberated the whole world."
So he shows up, mostly, to seek out those who might be wearing a cap similar to the ones his hero use to put every day until his death in 2003.
"There are probably a few up on that stage," Johnson said, pointing at the group of veterans and local leaders sitting on the distinguished visitors' viewing platform. "You ask me, those are the greatest heroes this world has ever seen."
In many respects, the parade included what most locals have come to expect on Veterans Day -- appearances by high school ROTC cadets, firetrucks, marching bands, personnel and equipment from Seymour Johnson.
But many took note of something that has made the last several years particularly special -- the fact that there are currently hundreds of locally stationed airmen in harm's way.
Diana Weeks doesn't need a parade to remind her.
Her nephew is among those launching F-15Es into the skies over Afghanistan.
"You know, when people think veterans, sometimes, they only see them as old men and women. They think of the guys who fought in Europe and Vietnam and Korea," she said. "Let's not forget that those airmen over there right now will come home veterans. Let's not forget about them. And most of these Seymour people you see around here, they've been in that desert."
So as another year's parade came to a close, she made a plea to her neighbors.
"Why not thank them every day? Every single day," she said. "You don't need no holiday and neither do I. You can call me crazy if you want to, but Veterans Day should be always."