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Parade of honor

South Boston NewsSouth Boston News
The American Legion Post 8 Honor Guard leads the Veterans Day parade Saturday in downtown South Boston. Girl Scouts with a large American flag. (David Conner II photos)
SoVaNow.com / November 11, 2019
The Veterans Day parade held Saturday in downtown South Boston was “one of the biggest we have ever had,” said event coordinator Lori Reaves. “It’s really exciting to see it grow from year to year.”

With the American Legion Post 8 Honor Guard leading the procession, local veterans rode in antique cars and jeeps draped with American flags as an appreciative crowd cheered them on throughout a bright and chilly day.

Members of the National Guard drove two large tactical vehicles, Girl Scouts carried a large American flag, and motorcycles, fire trucks, and the Shriners miniature automobiles made their way down the parade route on Wilborn and Main Street.

The last truck to ride in the morning parade carried local veteran Paul Greenwood, dressed as Uncle Sam.

The celebration of Veteran’s Day continued at Constitution Square with an honor ceremony, with young Maggie Vogt leading the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by a prayer delivered by Zak Ford, member of First Baptist Church of Republican Grove. In the prayer, Ford asked listeners to remember those who served and those who gave the ultimate sacrifice while serving in the military.

Singing a capella, local musician Matt Boswell gave a rousing rendition of the National Anthem. On the north side of the grounds near Main Street, a 21-gun salute was conducted by American Legion Post 8. That was followed by Taps, performed by the HCHS Marching Band, directed by Dominick Stephens, across the field on Constitution Square.

Guest speaker was Command Sgt. Major David Ray Hudson of Elmo, who devoted his remarks to women in the military. “A veteran is not an old guy with a big hat,” said Hudson, noting that women have been part of the military since the Revolutionary War, albeit in non-combat role such as army nurses.

There are two million female veterans, Hudson noted, and he recognized one in particular: Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester, a member of the Kentucky Army National Guard who was awarded the Silver Star, the military’s third highest medal, for her heroism in action during a 2005 enemy ambush of a supply convoy in Iraq. Hester, serving as a military police team leader, engaged in close quarters combat and killed three insurgents with her M4 rifle and M203 grenade launcher.

“We can salute the flag as we did while in active duty,” Hudson told the audience at Constitution Square, noting a change in proper ways to salute the flag. The hand-salutes amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2008 now allows un-uniformed service members, military retirees, and veterans to rendering a hand-salute during the hoisting, lowering, or passing of the American flag and during the National Anthem.

Hudson said he was proud of all the hard work that went into Saturday’s event to honor local veterans. “I would like to see more encouragement for the community to support the vets,” he said.

The Dayz Delights food truck was on-site and Brooks Lyon Funeral Home provided free coffee and hot chocolate on the brisk November day. Each year they come to support this event and “we couldn’t be more thankful,” said Reaves.

Reaves is proud to be a part of this community and hopes this event continues to grow and gain more support for local veterans.

Reaves offered thanks to all of the parade participants, most of all the veterans, Berry Hill Health and Rehab for donations of bottled water and Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital for the small American flags that got passed out to everyone.

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