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Community offers warm support on blustery Veterans Day
November 13, 2015 Jerry Purvis   

Read more by Jerry Purvis

Photos by Frank Marquez/Gering Citizen The Minatare Indian High School band returns to the Veterans Day Parade lineup after an absence of several years. Flag girls Danielle Jay (left) and Kristin Clause lead the way. Kyesiha Garza and drum major Isaac Gomez follow close behind. The parade on East Overland in Scottsbluff was among several events in Scottsbluff and Gering honoring the men and women who have served in military uniform. Wintry weather did not deter participants and veterans who lined the parade route.

A small amount of snow fell over the Scottsbluff-Gering area for the first time this season on Nov. 11, but it didn’t damper the tradition of the annual Veterans Day parade down East Overland.

John Brehm, Scotts Bluff County Director of Veterans Services, said the parade was reorganized about 25 years ago. “On this day we want to honor those who served and continue to serve,” he said. “We also honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom and those who have died since their service to our country.”

High school bands from Gering, Scottsbluff and Minatare, as well as Bluffs Middle School, tuned up to march in the parade as the number of entrants grew once the snow stopped earlier in the morning.

AJ Legault, Chief Ranger at Agate Fossil Beds National Monument, brought a National Park Service truck to join the parade. Earlier in the day, he visited with some of the residents at the Western Nebraska State Veterans Home.

“It was nice to have the opportunity to visit with some of our veterans who were in World

War II and Korea,” Legault said. “Hearing their memories was important to me. They’re more than willing to share; all we have to do is ask.”

It was still snowing at Agate Fossil Beds in the early morning, and Legault said was online checking the weather and the roads to see if they would be able to come down to Scottsbluff. Legault was in the Army from 1987 to 1995, working in transportation during Operation Desert Storm.

“This is my sixth year of being in the parade, but I’m trying to remain low key,” he said. “I’m a bit embarrassedwhen people thank me for my service. When I think of Veterans Day, I think of our vets from World War II and Korea and Vietnam. To be thanked completely catches me off-guard. I’m proud to be a part of that.”

The Daughters of the American Revolution also had an entry in the parade for the first time. Member Janet Gifford said that while the morning was a bit cold, she remembered those in the military who serve in all kinds of weather. “We can thank them, but it doesn’t even come close to what they do for us.”

The origin of what was then called Armistice Day, happened on Nov. 11, 1918 when a temporary cessation of hostilities between the Allied nations and Germany in World War I went into effect on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day.

Federal legislation was approved May 13, 1938, making Nov. 11 of each year a legal holiday called Armistice Day. The day was set aside honor veterans of World War I.

But in 1954, after World War II required a much greater mobilization of forces, veterans groups urged Congress to change Armistice Day to Veterans Day.

With the approval of this legislation on June 1, 1954, Nov. 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

Parade watcher Army veteran Art Zamarripa served from 1968 to 1970.

Photo by Frank Marquez/Gering Citizen Navy veteran John Martinez and his father Marine Corps veteran Danny Martinez stand along East Overland in Scottsbluff for the Veterans Day Parade honoring military service members. Danny’s younger brother Eddie also served as Marine. John’s cousins Chazz and Jason served in the Army.
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