Roanoke’s first Veterans Day parade in more than seven decades started with an e-mail from a city employee suggesting such an event last year. It came to fruition last Saturday morning, as almost 2000 participants wound their way from Jefferson Street to Campbell Avenue, then down Campbell to a review stand in front of the City Market building.
Several thousand people came out to watch, offering “thank you for your service” greetings to the veterans that rolled by on floats, on foot and in vintage automobiles. Many waved American flags handed out for the occasion.
Members of Roanoke City Council, 6th District Congressman Bob Goodlatte and State Senator John Edwards, a former Marine himself, also took part. Marching bands from Patrick Henry, William Fleming, Cave Spring and William Byrd High Schools helped add to the pomp and circumstance. Virginia Tech’s Highty-Tighties band led off the parade.
Last November, Jeff Shawver, Building Commissioner for the City of Roanoke, sent an e-mail to a number of business leaders, fellow veterans and VMI alumni in the Roanoke area expressing his desire to see a Veterans Day event make its return. A Virginia Veterans Parade committee was formed shortly thereafter and a donation from ITT Night Vision helped jump-start the parade planning.
Bob Eaton, Virginia Veterans Parade Committee chairman, said beforehand that there had been “overwhelming support and requests to participate in the parade. This parade is the result of one e-mail sent last November. It is really amazing to see how fast things have developed.”
Also involved were a number of Army Reserve and National Guard units, Infantry divisions, Jr. ROTC groups from local high schools, the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps, marching units from local businesses and American Legion posts, the Disabled Veterans of America, VFW posts, local public safety groups, etc.
From all accounts if appeared that the Veterans Day Parade has enough momentum to once again become an annual event, honoring the men and women who have served this county in the military during times of war and peace.