By Skip Vaughn (The Redstone Rocket)October 31, 2012
The local community will render its annual salute to veterans in November.
A full slate of activities fills Veterans Week in Huntsville, Madison and Madison County.
Organizations involved include the Association of the U.S. Army and the North Alabama Veterans Coalition, among others. Max Bennett is president of the North Alabama Veterans and Fraternal Organizations Coalition. AUSA state president Joe Fitzgerald is the overall chairman for Veterans Week on behalf of the Redstone-Huntsville Chapter.
"It's a renewal of patriotic spirit," Fitzgerald said. "This is the only national holiday we have that honors all military veterans -- both living and dead. Veterans Day honors all military veterans -- those currently serving, those who have served and those who are deceased."
The Veterans Week theme is "Courage, Sacrifice and Duty -- Honoring Our Military Veterans." There will be special recognition to all Vietnam veterans during the Veterans Day Dinner on Nov. 9 and the Veterans Day Parade on Nov. 12. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Vietnam War.
Bennett is helping with the Veterans Day parade on Monday, Nov. 12 in downtown Huntsville. He will be emcee for the Veterans Prayer Breakfast on Nov. 5 from 7:30-9 a.m. at the Hogan YMCA, 130 Park Square Lane off of Hughes Road in Madison.
Tickets for the breakfast are available at ymcahuntsville.org. "They're free for veterans," Bennett said. "They're $20 for non-veterans but that pays for a veteran as well. That allows a veteran to eat for free."
Maj. Gen. Lynn Collyar, commander of the Aviation and Missile Command, is the breakfast speaker. Music will be provided by singer Lee Marshall, news anchor for WHNT News 19, and the Army Materiel Command Band.
On Nov. 8, nine Korean War veterans will depart the Huntsville International Airport for a weeklong visit to Korea. The organizer is the Legacy 4 Korean War Veterans Foundation, "Revisit Korea" Project team, led by KC Bertling. All expenses are paid by members of the community. The veterans are scheduled to depart via Delta Airlines at 5:35 a.m. Nov. 8 and return at 5:09 p.m. Nov. 14. The public is invited; well-wishers should be at the airport by 4 a.m. Nov. 8 and by 4 p.m. Nov. 14.
The Huntsville/Madison County Veterans Day Dinner is scheduled 5:30 p.m. Nov. 9 at the Von Braun Center's North Hall. New inductees will be added into the Madison County Hall of Heroes. The Huntsville/Madison County Veteran of the Year will be announced; and a veteran will receive the Huntsville/Madison County Lifetime Achievement Award. Dinner tickets are available. For information call Linda Crutcher at 722-4260 or email email@example.com.
On Nov. 10 at 6 p.m., the Marine Corps Birthday Ball at the Westin will celebrate the 237th birthday of the corps. Tickets for this event, sponsored by Kilo Battery, are $55. For information call 213-9683, ext. 108.
The Huntsville/Madison County Veterans Memorial charter ceremony will be held Nov. 10 at 10 a.m. at the Veterans Memorial Park downtown. Youngsters will help dedicate the memorial's time capsule and agree to return in 2062 for its reopening and appoint their successors.
"We are gathering children to agree to open the time capsule down at the park in 50 years. These kids are called ambassadors," Bennett said.
A Veterans Day concert will be held 5 p.m. Nov. 11 at the First Baptist Church on Governors Drive. Everyone is invited.
A Veterans Day Breakfast, by invitation-only, is scheduled 9-10 a.m. Nov. 12 at the Huntsville Depot Round House. Madison and the local AUSA chapter are co-hosts for this VIP event for the parade sponsors.
The 2012 Veterans Day Parade starts at 11 a.m. Nov. 12 at Veterans Memorial Park. It will be telecast live on WAFF 48 with co-hosts Liz Hurley and Bennett. Pre-parade activities are planned from 10-11 at the park. Parade floats start organizing at 8:30 at Lot K, on the corner of Clinton Avenue and Woodson Street, with assistance from members of the Warrant Officers Association. From 150 to 175 entries are expected; and 85 had registered by Oct. 15. Floats should preregister at waff.com.
"We will accept walkups that morning but they will be placed at the end of the line," Bennett said.
The two-mile route, approximately a square, goes from Holmes to Monroe, then in front of the park on Monroe, then south on Greene Street, west on Williams Avenue, north on Monroe past the Von Braun Center, and then finally west on Clinton and ends at the starting point on Lot K.
"I would guess 15,000-20,000 (spectators along the route)," Bennett said.
The Huntsville/Madison County Veterans Memorial's Phase 2 dedication is scheduled 10 a.m. Nov. 17 in Veterans Memorial Park. The day's events include unveiling for the Courage statue, lighting for the eternal flame, burying the time capsule, and dedicating the Patriot walkway -- an educational path behind the park.
The Courage statue, by local sculpture Dan Burch, depicts three World War I Soldiers, including one ascending from a foxhole. The local models for the sculpture included National Guard Maj. Russ Spry and Maj. Jeff Owens, and Reserve Sgt. 1st Class Chad Perry.