Belvoir, Prince William County renew Community Covenant in Manassas
November 16, 2009
By Julia LeDoux
FORT BELVOIR, Va. -- Veterans Day parade honors World War II vets, victims of Fort Hood shooting
Fort Belvoir Installation Commander Col. Jerry Blixt expressed his gratitude for the people of Prince William County as he, Installation Command Sgt. Maj. Gabriel Berhane, Supervisor Marty Nohe, and businessmen from communities in the county renewed the Army Family Covenant at Manassas' Loy E. Harris Pavilion after the town's inaugural Veterans Day Parade Saturday.
"I really, truly believe that, while the nation provides for the military institution, it is the community that cares for the individual Soldier and, today, you are truly caring for that individual Soldier, and I am truly honored by that," Blixt said.
The Quantico/Belvoir Regional Business Alliance sponsored the second annual covenant signing by area representatives.
The covenant is designed to foster and sustain effective state and community partnerships with the Army and to improve the quality of life of Soldiers and their families at their current duty stations and when they transfer to other locations.
The signing ceremony also included a historical pageant in honor of the Year of the NCO. Belvoir historian Gus Person and a group of living historians wore the uniforms of Soldiers dating back to when Europeans first stepped foot on the American continent to today.
Earlier in the day, patriotism, pride and community support for the military were on display as hundreds lined Old Town's streets for the parade, sponsored by American Legion Post 10 in Manassas, which honored, in particular, veterans of World War II.
"I don't think - particularly on Veterans Day weekend - it should go unnoticed that in Prince William County and the City of Manassas, our whole history right up to this point in time has been built around our military, going back to the Civil War," Nohe said.
The parade began with a moment of silence that honored all veterans and the victims of the Nov. 5 shooting at Fort Hood, Texas. Leading the parade was The Nation's Finest "First Team Honor Guard," 1st Cavalry Division, from Fort Hood.
A float and cars that carried World War II veterans followed the honor guard.
"It was an overdue tribute to those who served our country honorably, especially those of the Greatest Generation," said Post 10 Commander "Gunny" Lewis, a Marine veteran.
"They are responsible for giving us what we enjoy every day," said former Army Ranger and American Legion Post 10 member James Conroy, who served as the parade's emcee. He called the parade Lewis' dream and thanked the community "for making it come true."
Among the World War II veterans who participated in the parade was American Legion Post 10 member Joe Dazzo, who initially wanted to join the Navy more than 60 years ago.
"The Navy turned me down because I wasn't 5-feet-4 inches tall and the Army finally took me," said the diminutive Dazzo, who went on to participate in three amphibious landings during the war.
Cheers went up from onlookers as floats, bands, military vehicles and motorcycles made their way down the parade route.
"Isn't this unbelievable'" asked Fred Tompkins, a Post 10 member who helped organize the parade.