Dove release after the Patriots Salute to Veterans Parade. (photo by Kiesa Kay)
Dove release after the Patriots Salute to Veterans Parade. (photo by Kiesa Kay)

Patriotic citizens honor veterans in Columbus

Published 11:46pm Monday, November 11, 2013

Columbus went awash in red, white and blue as the first annual Patriots Salute to Veterans Parade swept through the center of town on the morning of Veterans Day.

“I’ve never seen a celebration this big in this area before, and I’ve lived here 75 years,” said Jeanette Pittman of Pea Ridge.

Linda McDaniel, whose son is serving in the  Marines, shook hands with Maj. Gen. James E. Livingston.
Linda McDaniel, whose son is serving in the Marines, shook hands with Maj. Gen. James E. Livingston.

More than 1,000 spectators lined the parade route to participate in the day of remembrance and respect.

The half-mile route wound through downtown Columbus along Mills Street (Hwy. 108) and ended on Ward Street. Hundreds of veterans attended the parade, including Theodore King, who at age 97 is the oldest veteran in Polk County. King attended with his daughters Jacqueline Robinson and Carolyn Bryan.

“This day means life and liberty,” said Bryan, King’s eldest daughter.

Dana Threlfall's husband, Grant, is stationed in Afghanistan, and she brought her children, Kyleigh and Gorden, to the parade.
Dana Threlfall’s husband, Grant, is stationed in Afghanistan, and she brought her children, Kyleigh and Gorden, to the parade.

Many veterans’ families also attended the parade, including Dana Threlfall, whose husband, Grant, is stationed in Afghanistan. Dana Threlfall brought their children, Kyleigh and Gorden, so they could begin to understand.

“I married into a military family, and it is a blessing to honor our veterans,” she said. “They deserve so much more thanks than we can give in one day.”

Mark Lanning, a senior at Polk County High School and a Boy Scout, led the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag. The meaning of the pledge echoed as the community gave thanks and recognition to people who had been willing to give their hardest work, and, if necessary, their lives to service to their country.

“It’s a great honor,” Lanning said. “I hope I did my troop proud.”

Tom Crabtree, news anchor for WSPA, announced the parade. The 55 parade participants included four marching bands. The 82nd Airborne Division Band participated in the parade and the memorial service.  Doves flew into the air, representing peace and freedom.

Afterward, retired Major General James E. Livingston, one of few surviving Medal of Honor recipients, spoke at a memorial service at the Veterans Memorial Park.

“Veterans made sure our great nation was secure,” he said. “We honor them here today, those who have served and sacrificed, and most of all, we honor those who did not come home. God bless them.”

Maj. Gen. Livingston spoke of the struggle in 1776 for achieving independence, and the American commitment to preserving and protecting freedoms not only on American soil, but also in more than 100 nations of the world.

“As long as there is an American military, the world will have hope,” Maj. Gen. Livingston said. “These veterans are the reason we have been and will always be free.”

Everyone present joined Maj. Gen. Livingston in saying God Bless America.

“God bless America,” Maj. Gen. Livingston said. “God bless this community, and thank you to all veterans for the service and the sacrifice.”

Many local businesses and individuals supported the parade, and Pine Crest Inn supplied an overnight’s stay for Maj. Gen. Livingston and his wife before the parade began. Dianne Timberlake at the Polk County Transportation Authority worked closely with Frank Ortiz, co-founder and event coordinator, to transport disabled vets to and from the parade and memorial service.

Planners had worked tirelessly to ensure a dignified, respectful thanks to all veterans. According to the Department of Veteran Affairs, 2,750 veterans reside in Polk County.

“I have got to tell you what a great team we have,” Colonel Otis Livingston, co-founder and event coordinator, said on his Facebook page. “Everyone is pitching in to make the observance of our Veterans Day a real success. Bill Hillhouse is getting a list of participants that will be a record-setter for parades in our community. Don Lyons has the control plan for the parade locked in and is covering all the bases. Julie Threlfal is doing a superb job with all the facets involved in public relations, and Andrew Morris has returned from active duty to keep our financial management on track. John Gargulio has successfully helped our fundraising efforts and the list goes on – Jerry Kiel, Pamela Bagwell, Bob Lair, Ted Owens, Scott Camp, and of course my compatriot and the real go-to guy, Frank Ortiz. John Gargiuolo has successfully helped our fund raising efforts and the list goes on– Jerry Kiehl, Pamela Bagwell, Bob Lair, Ted Owens,Scott Camp and of course, my compatriot and the real “go to” guy, Frank Ortiz.Thanks to all for an effort beyond the call of duty.”and Andrew Morris has returned from active duty to keep our financial management on track. John Gargiuolo has successfully helped our fund raising efforts and the list goes on– Jerry Kiehl, Pamela Bagwell, Bob Lair, Ted Owens,Scott Camp and of course, my compatriot and the real “go to” guy, Frank Ortiz. Thanks to public relations, and Andrew Morris has returned from active duty to keep our financial management on track. John Gargiuolo has successfully helped our fund raising efforts and the list goes on– Jerry Kiehl, Pamela Bagwell, Bob Lair, Ted Owens,Scott Camp and of course, my compatriot and the real “go to” guy, Frank Ortiz. Thanks to all for an effort beyond the call of duty. Hootpublic relations, and Andrew Morris has returned from active duty to keep our financial management on track. John Gargiuolo has successfully helped our fund raising efforts and the list goes on– Jerry Kiehl, Pamela Bagwell, Bob Lair, Ted Owens,Scott Camp and of course, my compatriot and the real “go to” guy, Frank Ortiz. Thanks to all for an effort beyond the call public relations, and Andrew Morris has returned from active duty to keep our financial management on track. John Gargiuolo has successfully helped our fund raising efforts and the list goes on– Jerry Kiehl, Pamela Bagwell, Bob Lair, Ted Owens,Scott Camp and of course, my compatriot and the real “go to” guy, Frank Ortiz. Thanks to all for an effort beyond the call of duty. Hootpublic relations, and Andrew Morris has returned from active duty to keep our financial management on track. John Gargiuolo has successfully helped our fund raising efforts and the list goes on– Jerry Kiehl, Pamela Bagwell, Bob Lair, Ted Owens,Scott Camp and of course, my compatriot and the real “go to” guy, Frank Ortiz. Thanks to all for an effort beyond the call of duty. Hootpublic relations, and Andrew Morris has returned from active duty to keep our financial management on track. John Gargiuolo has successfully helped our fund raising efforts and the list goes on– Jerry Kiehl, Pamela Bagwell, Bob Lair, Ted Owens,Scott Camp and of course, my compatriot and the real “go to” guy, Frank Ortiz. Thanks to all for an effort beyond the call of duty. Hoot

Contributions to donate to the parade may be made by check payable to “The Patriots Salute to Veterans Association Inc.,” and mailed to PSVA Inc., P.O. Box 1275, Columbus, NC 28722.

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