In 1968, while going through Marine Corps bootcamp, there were no classes on political correctness and my drill instructors didn’t spend very much time on sensitivity training. hey loved to march, then march some more and when our blistered feet felt like bags of concrete, we marched again. Somehow it always seemed to be uphill. So when my little sister told me recently that I needed to change the name of the Patriot March to something else, I couldn’t grasp why.
She thought “March” sounded too much like a demonstration in today’s world. That the word now had negative and political tones that could send the wrong message. I ask several others their opinion and they all agreed with her. I really hate it when she’s right. Another perfectly good word down the drain.
So I am pleased to announce that the “Patriot Parade” has joined up with the 25th Arkansas Balloon Festival to present a very fun-packed weekend. The purpose of the Parade is to celebrate our military, veterans, first responders and the great community who supports them. The Parade will start at noon on Saturday, Sept. 12, and will take place at the Boone County Regional Airport.
The Parade is being hosted by local chapters of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, Boone County War Memorial Association and Disabled American Veterans. We are grateful to The Home Depot, Walmart and Cornerstone Bank for always being there to help veterans and sponsoring the event.
The Parade will include members of our local military, veterans, law enforcement, fire departments and EMTs, bands, Boy and Girl Scouts, the FFA, local civic and school organizations and much more. There will be food, a bouncy-house for the kids, aircraft displays and fun for all. Admittance is free and parking is available for a small donation.
There will also be an appearance by the Bulldog Flight Demonstration Team who will fly as close as 15 feet apart while conducting a series of complex, acrobatic, aerial maneuvers. The Bulldogs consist of seven experimental aircraft and are flown by extraordinary pilots, many of who are decorated veterans.
In the weeks leading up to the Balloon Festival and Patriot Parade, we will be conducting a food drive (Food For Vets) and collecting donations. All proceeds will go directly to helping members of our local military, veterans and their families. If you or your organization would like to participate in the Parade or help in this worthy cause, please contact us at email@example.com or you can send a donation to DAV, P.O. Box 632, Harrison, AR 72602.
The Parade is also sponsoring essay and art contests with patriotic themes among area schools. There will be cash prizes and the essay grand prize winner will be invited to read their composition during the ceremony after the Parade. The art grand prize winner will also be introduced and their artwork will be used as the logo of next year’s parade. The Boone County Library has volunteered to display all entries and assist with the judging.
This community is exceptional in that we love and support the men and women who keep us free and safe. So bring the family, enjoy the festivities and if the mood hits you – don’t be afraid to join the parade. If you prefer to march, that’s fine with me.
Matt Russell is a USMC Vietnam combat veteran and Commander of the Boone County DAV. The opinions expressed in this column are his alone and do not represent the position of this newspaper, the Disabled American Veterans or any other organization.