By Catherine Ellerton
Moapa Valley Progress
On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, World War I ended on 11/11/1918.
The following year, President Wilson proclaimed November 11th as the first commemoration of Armistice Day. In 1938, Congress made November 11, a legal holiday and in 1954 the word ‘Armistice’ was changed to ‘Veterans’.
The Commander of local Post #75 of the American Legion and an Army retiree, Dennis Vance, stated that the American Legion proudly sponsors the local parade so that “all people, young and old, can be reminded of those willing to put their lives on the line so we can continue to live the American Way.”
I once heard it said that every service member signs a blank check to the U.S. Government up to and including their life,” Vance said.
The local VFW Post #8336 is also proud to participate in the MV Veteran’s Day Parade. VFW Commander and a former Navy man, Dan Beckdahl reminds that these Service Organizations “Honor the dead by serving the living.”
Monday’s parade began with a Metropolitan Police Department helicopter flying overhead in the brilliant blue autumn sky.
Marching first down the main street were veterans Chuck Bartlett, Frank Johnson, Darrell Moffatt and Joshua Slight in the American Legion Color Guard. Moffatt, a graduate of MVHS and a marine, is currently stationed at Camp Pendleton, California.
Slight was a Black Hawk Crew Chief before his retirement from the Army. He completed one tour of duty at Tikrit, Iraq, and, therefore, has a lot of emotions concerning Veteran’s Day. He is proud to honor all veterans no matter what age generation.
A vintage 1928 Model A Ford followed. It was driven by Don Grady, a WWII and Korean Veteran.
The VFW Color Guard came next made up of Dan Beckdahl, Jerry Johnson and Bruce Hollinger.
Parade Grand Marshall Annie Gaball came close behind in another vintage car. She stated that she was privileged to be chosen to have the opportunity to honor veterans like her husband Tom who served in the Army in Vietnam. She brought her warm smile and a bag of doggy biscuits to welcome all who came out on the day of celebration.
Following the colorful floats and enthusiastic parade participants, the MVHS Band brought their joyful patriotic sounds, under the direction of band director, Tony Polzien. This reporter took an opportunity to interview some of the band members before the parade and found out that some of their favorite patriotic songs were “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” “The Star Spangled Banner” and “God Bless America.” Although many said it was great to have a holiday.
Commander Sgt. Major of the 416th Civil Affairs Unit for the Army Garen Fulmer stated that the 4th of July and Veteran’s Day are two of his favorite holidays. This member of the Battalion Air Born (‘Red Hats’), continued that the best thing about the Valley holidays is that the whole community joins together to celebrate the American veteran. He has been driving the POW/MIA entry in the parade for several years. This year that entry was a 1943 Ford Jeep that saw action in WWII.
The MIA/POW flag, although often carried in the Color Guards, is traditionally carried at the end of the MV Veteran’s Day Parade as a reminder that once all the celebration and appreciation we show for our veteran’s is done, we should never forget those who were lost, never to return home.