Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C. --
The blare of fire trucks’ sirens, “Rolling Thunder” and the liveliness of the crowd could be heard amongst the sounds of the 2nd Marine Division Band on Western Boulevard, Saturday, during Onslow County’s 13th annual Veterans Day parade.
From a seat in his antique Rolls Royce, retired 1st Lt. Anthony Moseley, the Corps’ first black officer, led the parade next to his wife M.G. Moseley.
Debbie Hangsleben, the chairperson for Rolling Thunder Chapter N.C. 5 Jacksonville, which organized the parade, said more than 1,000 participants and at least 5,000 patriotic spectators turned out despite the chilly temperature.
“It’s the best (turnout) I’ve seen yet in 13 years,” she said.
Former U.S. senator and decorated veteran Bob Dole stood in for his wife Elizabeth’s attendance that morning as multiple Cub Scout packs and Boy Scout troops, along with Jacksonville’s Police and Fire departments paraded down the streets.
Dole engaged more than a few Marine Corps groups before the parade, thanking them for their service.
“At 85, I still remember there are men and women going off in every crisis, ready to make sacrifices ... thank you for what you do and don’t be misled by what you hear,” he said. “The people of our country do respect what you do.”
Dole’s comments serve as a firm reminder to Americans, highlighting why we celebrate Veterans Day.
Veteran’s day, usually celebrated Nov. 11, was once called Armistice Day, a federal holiday enacted to remember the treaty, which ended the World War I.
The parade was rife with both young and old, who stood up and down the boulevard waving American flags and cheering on the parade.
“We come every year,” said Harry Lord, of Jacksonville. “We can’t miss it ... rain or shine, we’d be out here. We come to honor the present military and the forgotten ones too. We’ve got to support them for the job they’re doing right now.”
As Lord and his wife stood watching, 3-year-old Trinnity De Los Santos danced and laughed wildly at the colorful celebration. She stood with her mother Theresa, a military spouse. Trinnity enjoyed the Jacksonville High School Band, showing her enthusiasm by jumping around as they passed.
“The only reason we are able to sit out here and enjoy this parade with our daughter is because of people like my husband and my grandfather,” said Theresa. “It’s not just a holiday or just a parade, and I want people to know that. I want my daughter and other Americans around the country to understand that this is a time for all of us to remember exactly why our country is so prosperous, how blessed we really are and that it is because of our veterans.”