A salute to heroes
By Steve Herring
Published in News on November 12, 2013 1:46 PM
Thousands of people, many waving small U.S. flags, lined downtown streets Monday morning to honor those who have served or are serving in the military.
Organized by the Wayne County Veterans and Patriots Coalition, the Veterans Day Parade featured some 85 units and lasted almost an hour.
The crowd was much smaller at a wreath-laying ceremony held later at the Wayne County Veterans Memorial, but organizers said they were still pleased with the turnout.
"I drove around this thing, and I was amazed at the number of people who showed up, but the weather was probably the main factor," parade grand marshal Hugh Howard said as he waited for the parade to start. "It is amazing to see all of the children."
It is important to recognize veterans by holding events like the parade, Howard said.
Howard, 89, served in World War II and the Korean Conflict, retiring after 30 years in the Air Force. During World War II, the B-17 on which he was a gunner was shot down over Germany. He spent seven months in a POW camp, before being liberated by U.S. forces on April 29, 1945.
David Bennett of Grantham, his wife, Sue, daughter, Karen Russo, and teenage grandsons, Anthony and Nicholas Russo, parked on Center Street near where the parade stepped off.
"We come every year," said Bennett, a Vietnam veteran. "It has been a tradition ever since the boys were big enough to get into the back of the truck. It was something that I wanted to instill in them, and something that I enjoy doing just coming out and saluting all of the other veterans and the time and effort that everyone put into the parade."
Bennett said he doesn't think the nation does enough to pay tribute to its veterans.
"For all that the men and women do in the military, we don't give them near enough credit," he said. It is just a good time to take time to remember our veterans and to be there for them."
He added that he was especially gratified to see so many children in attendance Monday.
"It is very important to keep it going for the young people who are coming up to see what people do to keep the freedom and so that they can have the things that they enjoy in life -- that somebody puts their life on the line every day for them."
Nearby, Joann Fryer of Mount Olive sat on the street holding her 1-year-old daughter, Alliayah. Seated next to her was her 5-year-old son, Demarcus Seaberry.
"I love to see the parade," she said. "It shows them (children) their inheritance and who fought for them. I come every year."
"I like it," Demarcus said. "I like the people."
Veterans and Patriots Coalition member Al Greene said the turnout was "great" considering the earlier chilly temperatures.
"We could not have done this alone, this is a cooperative effort," Greene said. "We definitely could not have done it without Seymour Johnson. I think that we did a yeoman's job on this one."
He also praised other veterans groups for their help. It takes all of them to make it happen, he said.
Greene said he likes seeing so many children at the parade.
"That is the whole idea," he said. "For a while it seemed like patriotism kind of went by the wayside. But I think that it is coming back. The youngsters are getting involved with it so we are real proud of what we did today."
The parade turnout says that Goldsboro and Wayne County think a lot of their veterans, Greene said.
"This is one of the biggest turnouts that I have seen in some time," he said.
Following the parade, the David Williams Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution held a reception for veterans and their families at the Wayne County Museum.
The chapter also sponsored a wreath-laying ceremony at the Wayne County Veterans Memorial.
"The memorial has been here for two years and we did the first Veterans Day and then we did Memorial Day and this is our second Veterans Day," DAR regent Ann Jones said. "It has grown. Last year it was smaller. There were more at the museum. Our plan next year is to make (the reception) like an old USO."
The reception is just a way for the chapter to reach out to the community and to the veterans, she said.
"We are thrilled because when you start something like this, you are not sure until the last minute, 'Are people going to show up?'" she said. "But they just come and we have a nice little group."