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After a long wait, Lawrence to once again have a Veterans Day parade

Lawrence’s horse-drawn Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade is fantastic, except scurrying for candy in the streets can get a little messy. (Actually, don’t bother. That’s not candy, city slickers.) The St. Patrick’s Day Parade is a great tribute to the Irish and out-of-control grocery carts. And the Earth Day Parade is a reminder of what great fun we’ll have when the entire world starts riding bicycles and all yoga is free.

But despite Lawrence’s love of parades, there is one type the community hasn’t had for years: a traditional Veterans Day parade. A group of local residents plans to change that this November.

A Veterans Day parade through downtown Lawrence is set for 1 p.m. on Nov. 11, which happens to be a Saturday this year. The route will go down Massachusetts Street roughly from Seventh Street to South Park.

That’s your cue to line the streets and put your patriotism on full display. I thought I should explain because it has been a long time since Lawrence has had a Veterans Day parade. Organizers believe the last official one was in 1968.

Lawrence Daily Journal-World, Nov. 12, 1968

Lawrence Daily Journal-World, Nov. 12, 1968

The organizing group — which is co-chaired by American Legion member Don Weis and Lawrence Police Department employee Kim Murphree — already has the necessary parade permit from the city. Now, they’re just looking for lots and lots of veterans.

Mike Kelly, a retired Air Force colonel and member of the organizing committee, said the group is looking for anyone who has served in the U.S. Armed Forces, regardless of whether they served during a time of war.

Kelly, though, said he wants to make sure Vietnam veterans particularly feel welcomed. He said that the idea for the parade stemmed, in part, from hearing from people who knew Vietnam veterans who still struggle with the reception they received upon returning from the war.

“I think there are a number of people who now just say it has been too long,” Kelly said. “We ought to say thank you, especially to the folks who haven’t gotten a thank you. We think there are some people out there who didn’t get a thank you.”

Any veteran who wants to participate in the parade can get in touch with Murphree at themurphreenetwork@gmail.com or can leave a message on the group’s Facebook page, which can be found at The Lawrence Veterans Day Parade.

Local car dealers are providing several vehicles for veterans to ride in, several farmers are providing large flatbed trailers for veterans, and walking the parade route also is an option, Kelly said. He said the committee will accommodate whatever needs a veteran may have.

In addition to the veterans, Kelly said organizers hope to have a military band, honor guards from the sheriff’s office, police department, fire department and other organizations, and some military vehicles from the Army Reserve or another branch.

“It will be like a Humvee or something,” Kelly said. “No M-1 tanks on Mass. That wouldn’t be good for the pavement.” (It did give me a wonderful idea, though: a candy cannon.)

Kelly said people who would like to honor a deceased veteran can provide information to the committee via the Facebook page or email address. He said the tentative plan is for posters to be made with those names.

People who are interested in volunteering also can reach out via those same means. He said people would be needed to help clean up afterward and to help near the viewing stand, where an emcee will be announcing the names of veterans.

“But the main purpose of all this is just to say thank you,” Kelly said.

Marking your calendars to do that may be the most important role you can play.

Comments

David Holroyd

Have some Gold Star mothers so that the parade viewers can see the mothers who lost children..It should be very easy to contact them..They do not have to be from Lawrence.

In fact, the organizers should include anyone in Douglas County and other surrounding counties if those counties don't have a parade scheduled the same day.

If Mr. Kelly makes the right contacts and has them...this parade will have a band, a big one!

I just wonder how many WWII vets are alive in the area?

1 month, 2 weeks ago

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Don Brennaman

The route seems quite short. How about beginning and or ending the parade at 1801 Mass?

1 month, 2 weeks ago

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Kim Murphree

This all started with veterans who told VA counselor Saundra Wisdom that they were disappointed that there was no Lawrence Veterans Day Parade. Saundra was moved and wanted to change that. She contacted me and I called the American Legion and spoke to Commander Corey Ball about putting together a committee. He directed me to contact American Legion 2nd Vice Commander Don Weis, who volunteered immediately to co-chair the committee and his wife Pat Weis volunteered to be Treasurer. Shortly after that, ADA Andrew Bauch, who currently serves in the Air National Guard, became the Secretary, and more people came on board. These are all very dedicated and wonderful people. The Lawrence Veterans Day Planning Committee has been working since April to plan this project, and we are very grateful for our sponsors!

The original route was longer, but in order to get the first parade off the ground, the route was shortened. Some of the parade will begin at the North Lawrence Visitor's Center, and the body of the parade will join at 7th and Massachusetts Street.

We would also like to acknowledge that this October marks the 150th Anniversary of the Haskell Indian Nations University Arch dedicated to 415 World War 1 Native American Veterans.

We thank our friends at Lawrence Civitan for volunteering; if you would like to volunteer, please contact us!.

For a list of our sponsors please check the Lawrence Veterans Day Parade Facebook page.

The Committee:
Saundra Wisdom April Trevino
Corey Ball Diana Low
Don & Pat Weis Kim Fulcher
Andrew Bauch Doug Woods
Connie Beebe Michelle Derusseau
Jerry Totten Dustin Stumblingbear
Cindy Lynn NIck Fritts
April Blackmon-Strange Mike Kelly
Karla Hesse Stephen Prue
Stephen Navarro Eric Walther
Rachel Raising Rachel Johnson
Kim Murphree

Committee members at large:
Hank and Sue Booth
Charles Branson
Matt Llewelyn
Amy Rinke
Stephen Bulchholz
Allison Boydston
Lisa Dankenbring
Pat Miller

1 month, 2 weeks ago

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David Jaroscak

Excellent,
This is a long time in coming. Now how about observing this very important day within the Public School calendar,

1 month, 2 weeks ago

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David Teska

I'm happy to see that Lawrence is planning a Veteran's Day parade this year and I hope area veterans take advantage and sign up to participate. I especially hope Vietnam-era vets do as well. As a veteran myself, I plan to participate.

1 month, 2 weeks ago

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