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Residents celebrating Veterans Day

Pearl River County and Picayune residents and veterans are celebrating the observance of Veterans Day today, Nov. 11, with the laying of a wreath at the War Memorial in front of City Hall on Goodyear Boulevard and a big Veterans Day parade down Goodyear Boulevard and West Canal Street on Saturday at 6 p.m.

According to American Legion Commander Wes Clark, the McSween-Johnston Post 73, in cooperation with the local VFW, will lay a wreath in honor of all veterans at the War Memorial at 10 a.m. today.

“It is an honor to honor those who have served and died for our country. All residents, veterans and public officials are invited to attend this ceremony to show to our veterans that we appreciate their sacrifices for our country,” said Commander Clark.

Following the wreath laying, there will be a luncheon for veterans and their wives at the American Legion Hall, 2500 Union School Road, said Clark.

The mayor and councilmen and county officials are expected to be on-hand at the wreath laying. The wreath laying will take place promptly at 10 a.m. today following a prayer by the Legion Chaplain Bill Rutledge.

Then on Saturday at 6 p.m., the Veterans Day Parade, which is getting bigger and bigger each year, will take place on Goodyear Boulevard and West Canal Street.

Last year an estimated 1,000 attendees lined Goodyear and West Canal to say thank you to veterans riding in restored Army vehicles.

Chief Mark Thorman, senior naval science instructor at Picayune Memorial High School, said any organization or individual that wants to march in the parade should present themselves in front of the vo-tech building on Goodyear Boulevard at 5 p.m. on Saturday.

He said the parade, which will feature veterans and organizations tossing favors to the crowd, will get underway promptly at 6 p.m. The NJROTC color guard will march, and Mississippi Coast Watchers, a group that refurbishes old Army vehicles and who help sponsor the parade, will be on-hand again with their restored vintage war vehicles, from which veterans will be tossing favors. There will be candy and toy soldiers among the favors this year, said Thorman.

The parade, says Thorman, will wind down Goodyear Boulevard, starting at the vo-tech, then take a right on U.S. Highway 11 South, and a right on West Canal, back around to Kirkwood and Goodyear at the high school auditorium where it will disband.

“The veterans will be throwing candy and toy soldiers so we want to remind the kids not to forget and (to) bring their bags, and we want to also caution the kids and their parents to be super careful,” said Thorman, who is a retired U.S. Navy air traffic controller.

Thorman added, “We want all veterans and current military to come out and ride in the antique vehicles and participate so we can honor you.”

“We especially want all World War II veterans to come out and attend, because there will be a special vehicle set aside for you to ride in,” he said. “We want residents to come out and show their appreciation for our veterans. Let’s not forget what they have done for us. We would be bowing to a dictator today if it had not been for the sacrifices made by our veterans.”

Also participating in the parade will be the Picayune Fire Dept., Picayune Police Dept., and Sheriff David Allison and the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Dept.

“Anyone or any organization who wants to march and participate in the parade is welcome to honor our veterans. We want as many people as possible participating in the parade itself and enjoying it along the way,” said Thorman.

Veterans Day, now a national holiday, always falls on Nov. 11 and grew out of “Armistice Day,” celebrating the end of World War I, which ended on Nov. 11,  1918, at 11 a.m. Although it would be seven months later when the Treaty of Versailles would be signed, ending what was called “The Great War,” shooting officially stopped on 11/11/18, at 11 a.m.

In November, 1919, President Woodrow Wilson declared Nov. 11 as the first “Armistice Day.” In his proclamation Wilson said, “. . .Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died. . .”

Wilson urged the celebration with parades, public meetings and a brief suspension of business at 11 a.m.

On May 13, 1938, Congress made Nov. 11 a legal national holiday and set it aside as a day to honor all veterans.

The 83rd Congress on June 1, 1954, struck the word “Armistice” and inserted the word “Veterans” and on Nov. 11, 1954, the first full Veterans Day celebrations occurred, honoring all American war veterans.

On Oct. 8, 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower issued the first “Veterans Day Proclamation.”

The Congress and President took the actions at the urging of the veterans national service organizations, such as the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.