DeSoto County this week continues to pay tribute to and honor its veterans with events across the county.
One such event is set for the streets of Hernando on Monday, Nov. 11, when the city hosts the Hernando Veterans Parade.
The idea was spawned three years ago when the first parade of its type held in Hernando in more than 40 years took place in 2017. Officials said the event had 55 units involved, 350 band members, 150 veterans, and 832 students, which parade organization vice president Randy Martin explained is a very important statistic to them.
“If we didn’t help them understand now, here, in this community, what it meant to honor the veterans, they’re not going to learn it away from here,” Martin explained. “We have been extremely intentional in getting students involved. We have over 1,200 students committed right now for this year and we expect that number to rise.”
There were an estimated 1,500 spectators at the initial event in 2017.
However, Mother Nature “rained on their parade” last year and the parade itself was cancelled by the rainfall. However, a luncheon with about 400 people was held to honor veterans last year, a component that will continue with this year’s event.
Martin said it is never too late to honor those who placed themselves in harm’s way for the nation.
“Too many veterans, especially those of the Vietnam era, had negative experiences coming back from their service, because of the nature of the times and all the national media was negative,” Martin said. “We want to honor them all.”
Martin said the organizing committee wants to grow the parade to be an expectation, not a happenstance.
“We want it to get to the point where Hernando, Mississippi, has 10,000 students coming to a parade with 5,000 parents and families honoring veterans and the rest of the country takes notice,” Martin said.
The parade length is limited to one hour and with a limit of 75 units, of which 62 had already committed to be a part of the parade, Martin said, so as not to make it seem to go on and on. Five high school bands will take part, along with 28 antique vehicles, 29 motorcycles, and nearly 200 veterans.
More information on the parade may be found online at hernandoveteransparade.com.
Horn Lake community officials late last week held its seventh annual Veterans Appreciation Breakfast, named for the city’s late Mayor Winn Brown and wife Annie Ruth Brown. Wounded Warrior Keith Pate was the featured speaker for the breakfast that filled a hall of the Landers Center in Southaven and hosted by the City of Horn Lake.
The City of Southaven has plans for its annual Veterans Appreciation Luncheon on Friday, Nov. 8, at the Southaven Community Safe Room on Highway 51, adjacent to the Arena at Southaven.
Alderman Williams Brooks, himself a Wounded Warrior and Sergeant in the Mississippi Army National Guard, is the guest speaker for the program.
All veterans were asked to call Mayor Darren Musselwhite’s office and make reservations for the luncheon, which is free of charge to veterans. The mayor’s office phone number is 662-393-6939.
Among the other events planned to honor those who have served are the Baptist Memorial Hospital-DeSoto annual Veterans Recognition event, set for the hospital front entrance on Monday, Nov. 11, at 9:30 a.m. The event will include a special guest speaker and patriotic music and appearances by area school students. The annual Shoeboxes for Soldiers presentation to Mid-South Project Package is another part of the program.
Among school celebrations will be one at Olive Branch Middle School on Friday, Nov. 8 at 9 a.m. The school’s student council hold an appreciation program and reception that veterans and the public are welcome to attend.
Bob Bakken is Managing Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune.