Support for America’s veterans on parade in Laurel

Long Neck resident Dick Phillips, left, who served in the Honor Guard during his military service with the U.S. Army, chats with U.S. Army Old Guard members Master Sgt. Delos Santos, center, and Staff Sgt. Ryan Mullins prior to Saturday’s Eastern Shore Veterans Day Parade in Laurel. (Delaware State News/Glenn Rolfe)

LAUREL – America’s annual salute to military veterans was on parade in Laurel Saturday.

In its sixth year, the 2018 Eastern Shore Veterans Day Parade featured a record 92 entries, drawing participants from throughout the Eastern Shore region and beyond.

Participants and spectators braved chilly temperature and biting wind.

“There’s a lot of people here that have a lot of pride, so the pride is going take over any biting wind,” said Laurel Mayor John Shwed, who served in the Army Air Defense Artillery from 1964 to 1966. “So, we can show a little bit of discomfort with a little bit of the wind thing in honor of all of those people that have fought so bravely for us in such terrible weather conditions, both hot and cold, over the years.”

Watching from curbside was Laurel resident Vicky Higgins. “I am here to honor my deceased husband, John Quincy Higgins. He was a WWII veteran, in the Azores Islands. He died almost four years ago,” said Ms. Higgins.

Dr. Bill McGowan, left, and Sussex County Councilman Rob Arlett share a lighter moment prior to the Eastern Shore Veterans Day Parade.

“I think it is fantastic what they are doing to honor these veterans. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be on Veterans Day. It’s a wonderful event. I wouldn’t miss it.”

Hosted and facilitated by American Legion Post 19 in Laurel, this year’s parade marched to a “Service. Sacrifice. Salute” theme. It was held the day before Veterans Day 2018, which coincides with Armistice Day, a day observed by other countries to mark the anniversary of World War I 100 years ago on Nov. 11, 1918.

Leading this year’s parade was the U.S. Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, the official ceremonial unit and escort to the President of the United States. Saturday, there were no President Trump tweets or emergency calls for the Fife and Drum Corps — also known as the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment —- to immediately return to Washington, D.C. for ceremonial duty.

“Whatever they say, we’ve got to do,” said Old Guard Staff Sgt. Ryan Mullins.

The Harbor Defenses of the Delaware Living History Association had several vehicle entries in the Eastern Shore Veterans Day Parade. Piloting this jeep, Dr. Donald Hattier, and manning the machine gun, Tim Phillips.

A dozen members of the Old Guard, which had a larger unit participate in the Sussex County Return Day Parade in Georgetown two days earlier, teamed to lead the procession up Central Avenue and along a detour route bypassing the drawbridge that is currently undergoing repair and out of commission.

The parade lineup featured: several high school bands; a fleet of floats entered by civic and other organizations; reigning pageant winners; motorcycle members of the Legion Riders; a bagpipe unit from Richmond, Va.; local, county and state elected officials including Delaware Gov. John Carney; police cruisers, fire engines and the four-horse power of mounted patrol tandems from the Ocean City, MD., and city of Baltimore police departments.

The Harbor Defenses of the Delaware Living History Association had several jeep entries, including one driven by Dagsboro resident Dr. Donald Hattier, who offered kudos to Legion Post 19 for the hospitality extended to parade participants.

In front from left, State Sen. Bryant Richardson, incoming District 5 County Councilman John Rieley and Sussex County Council President Michael Vincent were among the elected officials who participated in Saturday’s Eastern Shore Veterans Day Parade.

The post-parade gathering at Post 19 in Laurel was spiced by lunch featuring chili and hot soup, which he says really hit the spot on a chilly, windy day.

“They nailed it. Chili and hot soup. It was wonderful. It was well appreciated,” said Dr. Hattier. “I love that American Legion. They are well run. You go in there everything is laid out and ready to go. They did a phenomenal job. They really did. Wonderful people.”

“We like to make this parade. It is well worth it,” said Dr. Hattier. “You meet some neat people. I met a new guy with a jeep … got to see some politicians that were elected and at least one that was not, and that was poor Rob Arlett.”

“The American Legion post has done a great job in slowly building this up,” said Mayor Shwed, who wore his Army camouflage attire for the parade. “It is just really fantastic. This brings out the support of the community … and a lot of appreciation for the veterans.”

Gary Banks of American Legion Post 19 prepares the Post’s float for the Eastern Shore Veterans Day Parade, hosted and sponsored by Post 19 in Laurel.

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