MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- --
The pounding of the drums and the harmonious sounds of different horns flowed down the street. Children stretched their necks to try and see the parade coming as parents urged them to take their seats on blankets, chairs or even on the curb. Everyone had smiles of excitement and joy, waiting for the first car to come around.
Hundreds of residents of Jacksonville, N.C., came out Nov. 7 to attend Jacksonville’s Veterans Day Parade to show their support for veterans.
Police cars blocked off Western Boulevard for the majority of Saturday morning as families placed lawn chairs and blankets on the sides of the four-lane road to get the best view they could of the parade. Jacksonville police were present to keep cars from driving on the street and to keep watch on the public as they crossed the street for a better view or to share a patch of grass with friends.
A Drug Abuse Resistance Education sponsored car and McGruff the Crime Fighting Dog were front and center of the parade bringing the cheers of families. After the DARE program each branch of service had its own display of support.
A Marine Corps color guard marched in front of retired Navy Cmdr. Kirk Lippold in a car with the 2nd Marine Division Marine Corps Band following in step playing the Marine’s Hymn.
Toward the end of the parade, Camp Lejeune’s Young Marines made their presence known as they gave cadence the way only those trained by Marines could call.
The Navy had a lot of representation in the parade, as Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune had naval personnel march out in their blue utilities uniforms proudly holding the 50 state flags.
“It gives us a good sense of pride to show that we care for the community,” said Chief Petty Officer Joseph Theriault, a chief petty officer with the Naval Hospital.
Right behind the formation was a truck carrying seamen displaying the different uniforms of the Navy. Not far behind was the Field Training Medical Battalion.
The Coast Guard represented by displaying patrol boats and other crafts such as the 25-foot Defender. The Joint Maritime Training Center also had a boat with their sign to show support for veterans.
The services were not the only ones participating in the parade. Many schools from nearby towns made the trip to Jacksonville to show off their pride. Richlands High School brought their marching band and flag team, while Northside High School’s Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps came out in their blue dress uniforms shouting cadence as they marched. Swansboro High School’s Marching Pirates made a bright presentation in their clean white uniforms with their 10-woman flag team and last but not least, Southwest High School’s Marching Stallions made their own show with black and orange uniformed teens, marching strong in cavalier-like hats.
Local fire departments, car and motorcycle clubs also gave their support, covering cars, bikes and even helmets in American flags that waved at the crowd as they rode down the street.
“I used to volunteer at Station 5 Half Moon Volunteer Fire Department, and I got out here just in time to see them roll by,” said Ryan Davis, a parent who joined the crowds with his 18-month-old son Maxwell. “It was great to see them out here. Then my son wanted to run after the truck because he likes to imitate the trucks and play with them, so he’s really enjoying seeing all the cars go by.”
Many of the families and children had smiles on their faces as clowns walked by, and motorcycles and cars revved their engines. The fire trucks continuously pulled their horn as children pumped their arms up and down, then quickly covered their ears as they watched the driver reach for the horn.
“There’s a bit of a transition in your 20s, because you feel like you’re too cool for this stuff,” said Davis.
But as 29-year-old Davis and his son showed, people can be any age to support our veterans.
“It’s always important that we show our support,” said Theriault. “It’s because of the veterans’ accomplishments that (the military) has the ability to do their jobs and continue protecting our country.”