Veterans Day parade planned in Columbus

Published 1:17 pm Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Members of the Polk County Honor Guard march in the Columbus Christmas parade in December 2012. A group of citizens hopes to devote an entire parade to veterans like these in November 2013. (photo by Leah Justice)

Local veterans have decided Columbus is the perfect place to hold an annual Veterans Day parade and are making plans for the first parade on Nov. 11, 2013.

A group is being created to organize a parade and event celebrating the national holiday with plans for an Honor Guard ceremony, a wreath laying at the U.S. flag and a white dove release.

Organizers say they hope to draw large crowds and envision spectators lining the streets of Columbus wearing red, white and blue and waving U.S. flags.

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This year’s event will include parade grand marshal Major General James E. Livingston, USMC Ret.
General Livingston, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his gallantry inaction during the war in Vietnam when, as a Captain, he was Commanding Officer of Company E, Second Battalion, Fourth Marines. General Livingston will also deliver an address at a ceremony conducted at the Veterans Memorial Park following the parade.

General James E. Livingston

Columbus Town Council met Jan. 17 and heard from Otis Livingston (no relation to the major) and Frank Ortiz who are co-chairs of the group.

Livingston said Veterans Day is a national holiday that occurs on Nov. 11 and is a day set aside so the nation can honor and pay tribute to all the men an women who have honorably served our nation in the armed forces.

For a number of years a small group of local veterans has conducted a Veterans Day ceremony at the Veterans Memorial Park in Columbus, Livingston told town council.

“There is, however, little public interest and very few people attend,” Livingston said. “This is a sad commentary because I believe most, if not all of our local citizens are good, patriotic citizens. The lack of interest and participation, in my opinion stems from the fact that people are busy with their lives doing other things and there simply isn’t much pleasure or entertainment offered to draw a large crowd.

The bottom line is that very few of our citizens recognize Veterans Day and take action to publicly display their thanks and appreciation for the service rendered and sacrifices made by our veterans.”

To remedy the situation, Livingston said a number of local residents have taken it upon themselves to bring attention to the special day.

Organizers say they plan for the parade to include veterans of the armed forces, veteran organizations, military units and color guards, bands and various marching units and patriotic civic organizations. Livingston told council the parade will not include clowns or hillbilly cars but will be “dignified and patriotic.” Spectators will be encouraged to wear red, white and blue and bring American flags to wave during the parade, he said.

“One of our objectives is to make this a fun and memorable family event and one the veterans will appreciate and remember,” Livingston said.

Plans are for the parade to begin at 9:30 a.m. in the vicinity of Park and Locust Street east of town on Hwy. 108 (Mills Street) and follow a route westward on Mills St. passing the courthouse on the left to Walker Street where it will turn left. The parade will turn left again on Ward Street and continue to Veterans Memorial Park. A ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. at Veterans Park.

Livingston told town council the group does not want to spend any taxpayer money on the event with the group seeking financial assistance from private individuals and businesses.

The group is currently taking action to apply for recognition as a nonprofit organization as a 501(c)(19), which will allow contributions to be tax deductible.

Town council members were very supportive of the parade and directed staff to work with the group to support the effort.

Find more information on the 2013 Patriots Salute to Veterans Parade on Facebook.