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Armed Forces Day parade coming back

By DARRELL SMITH - dsmith@newsexaminer.com

Five weeks remain until the Armed Forces Day parade and activities return to Fayette County after an absence of 19 years.

The parade will be at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 18. 

Nationally, Armed Forces Day is Saturday, May 18. President Harry S. Truman instituted the day in 1949 to pay tribute to the men and women of the armed forces. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy declared Armed Forces Day a national holiday on the third Saturday each May.

The Fayette County Bicentennial committee chose to use the weekend for its celebration, May 16-19, and has attempted to avoid conflicts in scheduling with the activities planned for Armed Forces Day.

Talk of reviving this event started a few years ago. Adrian Ellis took on the chairmanship. He said that as people are seeing that it is actually going to happen, things are getting busy.

“Now we’ve got a lot of people lining up,” he said. “This has touched a nerve. We’ve got a good group working on the event. This will bridge a lot of history and the sacrifices of a lot of people.”

“This will be tribute to Vietnam vets who want to come,” Ellis said. “They will be in the parade and we are basically saying ‘Welcome home,’ because they never got that. There will be a ‘Welcome Home’ banner across Park Road at the entrance to the Whitewater Trade Center.”

The National Guard will have soldiers and vehicles in the parade. Boy Scouts are talking about participating and a group from the Hoosier Youth ChalleNGe Academy in Knightstown (formerly the Indiana Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Children’s Home) will march.

The Museum of the Soldier in Portland, Ind., the Model T Museum in Richmond, an individual with a float that looks like a tank and local veterans organizations are also planning to attend, he said. Patriot Guard motorcycle riders will be in the parade.

The Connersville High School Band, horses and many others will also be in the parade.

The parade will start at 1 p.m., with staging starting at 11 a.m. on Grand Avenue north and south of 20th Street. The parade will flow eastbound onto 20th Street to Park Road and north to Roberts Park, Ellis said. 

Park Road will be closed from 1-3 p.m. for the parade. Traffic on Indiana 1 will be sent down Western Avenue, he said.

When the parade moves to Park Road, participants will see a lot of red, white and blue as it be lined with American flags. The Bicentennial Committee will have the 10,000 flags displayed near Park Road in front of the John H. Miller Community Center.

JTM Meats will supply food to feed the veterans and there will be several food vendors in Roberts Park. Union Savings and Loan Association and Whitewater Valley REMC are also major donors.

For more information, go to the event website, www.fayette-forward.com, and look for updated activities and for forms to enter the parade, become a sponsor or make a donation. 

“The biggest thing is to get the first year out of the way and then we’ve got a lot of things lined up for next year,” Ellis said.