Community members from across Williamson County celebrated and honored veterans on Wednesday as part of a “reverse” Veterans Day parade that snaked through The Park at Harlinsdale Farm.
The parade saw veterans and veterans service group members line the parade route while community members drove through the event along with the schools, school marching bands and ROTC classes to thank those who have served and sacrificed in all branches of the armed services.
Hundreds of people attended the event, most of whom were in vehicles, with a steady flow of traffic for more than an hour, a choice made to make the event more socially distant in an effort to adapt to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The parade kicked off with a flyover from two Williamson County Sheriff’s Office helicopters that passed over a giant American Flag hung above the parade by two utility trucks.
Two Williamson County residents, retired U.S. Marine Geraldine Amos, who served from 1969-71 and her husband, Walter M. Amos who served in the U.S. Army from 1953-58 attended the parade.
“We’re just so appreciative of what people think of us as veterans,” Geraldine Amos said, adding that she wouldn’t have changed anything about her service other than maybe trying to stay in longer.
Both Geraldine and Walter Amos said that their experiences helped them to grow new skills, confidence and said that those benefits are still true for young people entering the service today.
“It helps young people realize what they’re here for and how we can as individuals being in the armed forces help those who are unable to help themselves, and just really lets you know what the world is rather than just having someone tell you, it helps you to see for yourself what is actually going on,” Walter Amos said.
County resident Joan Bledsoe also attended the parade with her corgi Buddy, and although she did not serve in the armed forces, she did serve with the United Service Organization entertaining troops in World War Two, Korea and Vietnam, where she gained a unique respect and understanding for veterans she still holds today.
“It’s important to remember how we got to have parades like this, how we got to get together and honor the people who actually are responsible for everything we have,” Beldsoe said. “If we had not fought in all of those wars, and I include Vietnam in that, we would not have the peace that we have today, and I hope that the one that have never served get a chance to do that because it’s an honor.”
State Representative Sam Whitson, who served in the U.S. Army for 26 years, also attended and praised the organizers for adapting the parade to 2020’s needs and drawing so many attendees.
“The citizens who’ve come out to honor our veterans is really deeply moving,” Whitson said. “What I like about Veterans Day is that it’s one holiday that unites all Americans that have taken that common oath to support and defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. It unites us all, I’ll tell you what, we need more of that.”
Williamson County Circuit Judge James G. Martin also attended the parade where he reflected on his own service in the Army during the Vietnam War, a time that he said he looks back on with pride.
“I’m humbled by the extraordinary amount of people that are here and it represents to me a real tribute to American, to what we stand for and those who have served, so I’m so pleased to be here,” Martin said.
The event also included a presentation of pins by Old Glory Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
One of the DAR’s members is Suzanne Farris who said that she was there to honor her generations of relatives who have served including her son, a retired Air Force combat medic, adding that when she thinks of those family members it serves as a reminder that hardship exists and can be survived.
“We’re not the first generation that has had conflict. Those generations worked through it and provided a better country, hopefully we can do the same.”