Countywide Veterans Day celebration: ‘We are still the land of the free’; STGnews Videocast, Photo Gallery

A countywide Veterans Day parade pays tribute to servicemen and women, Washington City, Utah, Nov. 11, 2014 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

WASHINGTON CITY – Ninety-six years ago, on Nov. 11, 1918, an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, was signed between the Allied nations and Germany, and though the official ending of “The Great War,” otherwise known as World War I, didn’t happen until seven months later, when the Treaty of Versailles was signed, the armistice effectively put a cease to the fighting and signified the end was near.

A countywide Veteran's Day parade pays tribute to our servicemen and women, Washington City, Utah, Nov. 11, 2014 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News
A countywide Veterans Day parade pays tribute to servicemen and women, Washington City, Utah, Nov. 11, 2014 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

Originally designed to pay tribute to veterans of WWI, Veterans Day, or Armistice Day as it is still called in the United Kingdom, continues to be observed as a day honoring all veterans of wars who have shown heroism and sacrifice in service to the United States of America.

Tuesday morning, a countywide Veterans Day celebration took place in Washington City, beginning with a parade and culminating in a moving tribute to veterans, honoring both local servicemen and women and those all over the world who have served and continue to serve this country.

The parade route wound through Washington, passing throngs of veterans and community members who came out to pay tribute and show their support.

“It’s an honor to come out and support all the other veterans in the area,” Kenneth LeFevre, a Vietnam veteran, said. “It’s good to feel appreciated. For many years, the Vietnam veterans were not even acknowledged, and now the tide is changing. It is nice to come out and have people say ‘thank you.’”

The Patriot Guard Riders of Southern Utah led the parade, which featured veterans groups, school groups, marching bands from schools throughout the Washington County School District, local dignitaries and city royalties.

(story continues below)

Videocast by Melissa Anderson, St. George News and KCSG

Ed. note: Rhaldo A. Turner’s name incorrectly identified in video.

Significantly missing from the parade were any commercial entries, which allowed the focus to remain on the veterans.

St. George News associate and veteran Brett Barrett recounted his experience at the parade:

I only got to be at the parade for a little while. I made a new friend there. His name is Paul Niesen. He served in World War II in France. He was with the Army Engineers from 1953-59. There was a big M.A.S.H. unit on the southern coast of France and he set up the electricity for it.

He and I both did our basic training in Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri, even though it was almost 30 years apart. My barracks was one down from his (at the time).

He is a very spry Octogenarian in spite of his need to use a walker. He was the first one up when the American flag approached and he ran – jogged – out to shake hands with his fellow WWII veterans that were riding in a wagon in the parade.

He was chatting with another veteran from the Vietnam War, and I loved the bond that ran through the different generations of soldiers – one from the second World War, one from Vietnam and one from the Cold War. Three separate experiences, three distinct eras, one common bond: service.

Along the parade route, children were handed American flags to wave and candy was tossed from many of the floats, adding an air of celebration to the day of remembrance.

A countywide Veteran's Day parade pays tribute to our servicemen and women, Washington City, Utah, Nov. 11, 2014 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News
A countywide Veterans Day parade pays tribute to servicemen and women, Washington City, Utah, Nov. 11, 2014 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

After the parade, community members gathered at the Washington City Veterans Park, where a tribute ceremony was held adhering to the theme “We are still the land of the free.”

A field of flags adorned the park grass, and a solemn and celebratory program of remembrance honored the nation’s heroes with the posting of the colors and patriotic songs and displays.

The community’s youth played a big part in the program as school choirs, students, the Junior ROTC and scouts took part, bridging the gap between the servicemen and women of the past and those who may serve in the future.

“It’s our heritage,” Kent Horspool, a Vietnam Veteran of the Air Force, said. “These men and women that volunteer to fight for our country, we owe them a great deal of gratitude. I lost friends in Vietnam, and in all the other wars we lost a lot of good people. It is good that we honor them.”

Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.

Related posts

Email: hreina@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.