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Veterans Day parade selected as US model

Charleston was chosen last month as a regional site for the national observance of Veterans Day.

But what does that mean and why was Charleston chosen?

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs chose 62 sites across the country this year that exemplified honoring their community's military veterans. For the first time, Charleston was among those sites.  

"No other city in the state has ever been chosen," said Heather Miles, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Veterans Assistance. "It's absolutely something we're proud of. We've always been very proud of Charleston's Veterans Day Parade and it's nice to see it get some recognition."

Miles said the designation makes Charleston's celebration a model for others to follow.

Veterans Assistance Secretary Keith Gwinn nominated the city's celebration for the designation, she said. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin announced the designation last month.

The city's parade is in its 70th year and has a theme every year. In past years the parade has celebrated the "Rosie the Riveters," women who left the home to work on the home front in factories during World War II. Before that the veterans of World War II were honored.

This year the veterans of the Korean War will be celebrated as the 60th anniversary of the ceasefire approaches.

"I believe we were selected because of the number of years and the number of participants we've had in the past," said Ed Converse, the parade organizer and commander of the American Legion Post 20 John Brawley. "It's a great honor for the American Legion. It's really a tribute to all of the hard work the American Legion has put into this over the years."

The local post has organized and coordinated the parade from its inception as a tribute march in April 1942.

Converse, who served in the Army's 3rd Armored Division in Germany during the Cold War, said a picture hanging in the Dickinson Street post shows World War I veterans marching up Capitol Street in April 1942 in support of soldiers, sailors and airmen heading off to fight in World War II.

This year the parade will feature veterans' groups, civic groups, corporations and marching bands from all over the Kanawha Valley.

Converse said the American Legion post in Winfield will serve as the lead color guard for the parade and that the Patriot Guard riders will be the lead element. He's received calls from a few larger corporations in the area that want to be included.

He said more marching bands were needed.

The commanding officer of the USS West Virginia will serve as the parade grand marshal and speaker for the event at Haddad Riverfront Park immediately following the parade, Converse said. Several others from the nuclear submarine will accompany him.  

The parade usually extends about 1.2 miles but Converse estimates with the larger turnout this year the parade could stretch two miles or more.

He said the federal designation has prompted more help from state and federal agencies. The governor's office and veterans assistance have provided assistance, he said.

"The federal and state government officials seem to have gotten behind the parade more this year," Converse said. "We always get good support from the City of Charleston but we've gotten better support this year. The city's always been very gracious to us."

The parade is scheduled for Nov. 10. Participants will line up on Kanawha Boulevard near Leon Sullivan Way at 9:15 a.m.

The parade will begin at 10 a.m. and will travel north on Leon Sullivan to Quarrier Street, and then head west to Truslow Street where it will turn south to Kanawha Boulevard. The parade will disperse at Haddad Riverfront Park.

A ceremony is tentatively scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. at the park. The time may change as the parade grows.

For more information, contact Converse at econve2737@aol.com or 304-545-4057.

Contact writer Ashley B. Craig at ashley.craig@dailymail.com or 304-348-4850.


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