By David A. Farrell, Item Staff Writer
The Picayune Item
Okay, kids! You will get a chance to pay tribute to U.S. veterans, and at the same time collect a bunch of candy and toy soldiers, at the Picayune Veterans Day Parade, which kicks off on Monday at 6 p.m. in front of the high school Vo-Tech center on Goodyear Boulevard, said coordinator, Bill Beacht, himself a veteran. He served with the Marines in the Korean War.
“The kids and family should bring their bags on Monday, a big bag, because the veterans riding in the parade will be throwing out a lot of favors this year, more than ever before,” said Beacht in announcing the itinerary for the parade. “It keeps on getting bigger and bigger each year.”
The parade will begin at the Vo-Tech, go east on Goodyear Boulevard, take a right on U.S. Highway 11, take another right on West Canal Street, and wind down West Canal to Kirkwood and back to Goodyear Boulevard at the library.
Veterans Day falls on Nov. 11 each year and is a federal holiday. It is a day set aside to honor all U.S. veterans and is not to be confused with Memorial Day, which is held in May, and honors America’s war dead.
Beacht said this year’s parade is being sponsored by the Picayune Memorial High School Navy Jr. Officers Training Corps and the Mississippi Coast Watchers, an organization that restores old military vehicles. On Monday, a large number of restored vehicles will participate in the parade.
The NJROTC is commanded by Chief Mark Thorman, and is seen at the high school football games on Friday nights in the salute to the flag, and in other area ceremonies.
Said Beacht, “We want all Pearl River County veterans and current military to come out and ride in the antique vehicles and participate so we can honor you. If you have a uniform or cover, please wear it.”
Beacht added, “The veterans will be throwing candy and toy soldiers, so kids don’t forget to bring your sacks. There will be a special truck for World War II veterans and a special truck for the women who worked in the factories.”
He continued, “We are asking the public of Pearl River County to come out to support and honor our troops and veterans. . .Don’t forget what the veterans have done for us and the sacrifices they made so we can be free.”
The current Veterans Day celebration each year on Nov. 11 grew out of a proclamation by President Woodrow Wilson that set up what was then called Armistice Day, to celebrate the ending of World War I at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918. The day was first celebrated on Nov. 11, 1919.
Seven years later, on June 4, 1926, the Congress passed a concurrent resolution, requesting that President Calvin Coolidge issue another proclamation to observe No. 11 with appropriate ceremonies.
Then on May 13, 1938, a Congressional Act made Nov. 11 each year “a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as “Armistice Day.”
A Birmingham, Ala., World War II veteran, Raymond Weeks, in 1945 got the idea that Armistice Day should be celebrated to honor all veterans and led a delegation to Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, who threw his support behind a National Veterans Day.
Weeks led the first national celebration in 1947 in Alabama and from then until his death in 1985. President Reagan honored Weeks at a White House ceremony and presented him with the Presidential Citizenship Medal, saying he was the driving force behind the annual celebration honoring veterans.
On May 26, 1954, the Congress authorized the national holiday, and on June 1, 1954, amended the resolution changing the day’s name from Armistice Day to Veterans Day, by which it has been known ever since.