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story.lead_photo.caption Photo by Mike Eckels This group of veterans were on hand to help celebrate the first annual Veterans Day celebration at Veterans Park in Decatur Nov. 4. The veterans assembled here span five wars, including World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom.

— It began in the parking lot south of the Decatur Depot Nov. 5 when several military vehicles, floats, vintage cars and even a horse and rider lined up to form the first annual Decatur Veterans Day Parade.

When November 11, 2015, came and went, Decatur Mayor Bob Tharp realized that he had missed out on honoring the many area veterans that sacrificed so much for our freedom. He vowed that these veterans would never be forgotten again.

Tharp asked Rob Hopkins, a long-time Decatur resident and organizer of the local Honor Flight, to organize a group of local veterans and residents into the Decatur Veterans Committee. The committee's first mission was to make Decatur a Purple Heart City. Working with city officials, Decatur became the 20th Purple Heart City in Arkansas June 23. Mission accomplished. The committee was next tasked with putting together a parade and commemoration ceremony on Veterans Day.

At 10 a.m, over 100 adults and children assembled along the east side of Main Street, ready for the third parade of the year. Suddenly sirens sounded in the distance, marking the beginning of the parade. Led by a Decatur police car and followed by the new rescue truck of the Decatur Fire Department, the parade turned the corner by the depot and made its way up Main Street toward a crowd of excited onlookers.

Two retired military vehicles and three floats carried 35 veterans. These veterans served in five conflicts, which included World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom. It carried veterans who served this country in peacetime as well. The Parade concluded at Veterans Park where a short commemoration ceremony took place.

The Decatur High School band provided the music for the program. A skit portraying life in a boot camp was performed by the Westville High School Drama Club. After short speeches by Tharp and Hopkins, the program concluded with a beautiful rendition of "Taps" with Dylan Frydrychowski performing the trumpet solo.

The first annual Decatur Veterans Day Parade proved to be one of the most successful events thus far this year, rivaled only by the Decatur Barbecue. The work Hopkins, the Veterans Committee, the Howard-Perrish VFW Chapter and the many volunteers all contributed to the success of this event will make the Veterans Day Parade a tradition in Decatur.

Decatur High School will host a veterans day assembly Nov. 11 at 10 a.m. at Peterson Gym in Decatur. It will be followed by a luncheon in the school cafeteria at 12 p.m.

General News on 11/09/2016

Print Headline: Decatur Veterans Parade honors area vets.

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