An estimated 2,000 people turned out for the first Hernando Veterans Parade around the historic DeSoto County Square, an event that included DeSoto County Supervisors Michael Lee, Lee Caldwell and Mark Gardner, along with Rep. Jeff Hale, R-Nesbit.

DeSoto County's love for the men and women of this country who have worn the uniform and shouldered the musket to protect America's liberty and freedom was displayed Friday with one of the largest parades in recent memory.

With more than 800 school children on hand to march and participate in the parade, another throng of more than 1,500 decked out in red, white and blue strolled, waved and rode their way along Commerce Street to the historic DeSoto County Courthouse Square in vintage automobiles and atop tanks and fire engines.

"It makes you proud to be an American," said District 4 Supervisor Lee Caldwell, who stood alongside fellow supervisors Michael Lee of District 5 and Mark Gardner of District 2, with DeSoto County Administrator Vanessa Lynchard and her husband, DeSoto County Chancellor Percy Lynchard looking on. "It also makes you proud to be a DeSoto Countian," added Caldwell, whose husband John is a decorated Marine. "We moved here because of the values that we have here — of love for this country. It's just so great to be able to meet and congregate like this in a show of support for this country and what it stands for. Our veterans guaranteed that we have this privilege. It doesn't matter about race, creed or color. You come together as a community."

State lawmakers like Rep. Bill Kinkade, R-Byhalia, and Rep. Jeff Hale, R-Nesbit, were also on hand. Other lawmakers attended the annual Veterans Luncheon at the Southaven Arena to commemorate the 99th anniversary of the establishment of Veterans Day.

State Rep. Robert Foster, R-Hernando, rode in the parade with the Cedar Hill Farms float, all trimmed in red, white and blue.

Armistice Day, which ended the Great War in 1918, was celebrated at the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month, presumably to end war and promote a lasting peace.

The DeSoto County School District let students attend the parade and three high school marching bands took part in the festivities.

DeSoto County Administrator Vanessa Lynchard's voice quivered with emotion as she took stock of the parade when unfolded Friday morning under crisp, blue skies.

"There are just not enough words to describe it," said Lynchard. "There is not enough that we can do for veterans. They are just so amazing. This is wonderful that we were able to honor them."

Carolyn Young, one of the main organizers of the Hernando Veterans Parade, said Friday's parade turned out to be a truly spectacular event.

"I am grinning from ear to ear,' Young said. "I am so pleased with how everything went. It culled not have turned out any better. We were taking last-minute entries and people were walking up and asking to be in the parade. It was a lot of work, but it was well worth it. It was completely satisfying. The veterans were very grateful for everything that was done for them. What we did today showed that we respect our veterans and our flag."

Robert Lee Long is Community Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune. He may be contacted at rlong@desototimestribune.com or at 662-429-6397, Ext. 252.

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