Cloudy, windy weather didn’t deter hundreds of observers from attending Hammond’s recent Veterans Parade in the Hessville section of town.
To everyone’s delight, the rain held off until the 9th annual parade and the following ceremony were over.
“We have so many veterans in our midst and this event is the best way to honor them,” said Jerrilyn Pennington of Hammond, as she set up her lawn chairs along 175th Street. “I brought my kids to not only see the colorful floats and catch candy — but also to show them our community hasn’t forgotten what our servicemen and servicewomen have done for our freedom.”
Two familiar faces to the day’s festivities were Hammond mom Josie Grubb and her son Ted Allen Grubb, 12. Ted’s birthday falls on the traditional Veterans Day — Nov. 11.
“We come to this parade every year, it’s become a tradition for us,” Ted said. “My Uncle Tony Kunuth served in the Navy and he wasn’t able to be here today, so we’re here to honor him and all the other veterans.”
Louise Meuzellaar lives near the parade route and walked down with her two grandchildren Jordyn Kiel, 11, and Matthew Meuzerllaar, 11.
“It’s important to teach today’s kids about those that served — and those that are currently serving — in the armed forces,” the Hammond grandmother said. “An event like today’s gives them the opportunity to share with the community in recognition of those sacrifices.|”
Of the 91 parade entries were local high school marching bands, performing live horses, and local businesses and organizations, among many others.
This year’s Grand Marshal was Boyzie Coulter, a United States Marine Corps veteran and current Master Patrol Sergeant in the Patrol Division of the Hammond Police Dept. He served with the military for 12 years, achieving the rank of Sergeant.
After the parade concluded, spectators traveled the short distance to Hessville Park for a short ceremony at the Veterans Memorial.
Hammond first lady Marissa McDermott welcomed the crowd for her husband Hammond mayor Thomas McDermott, Jr., who was out of town. The mayor also is a veteran, having served in the U.S. Navy for six years.
“We have many parades for many different things, but not one that just honored veterans,” Marissa said. “Tom saw this need and the annual Veterans Parade began in 2013.”
Coulter spoke to the crowd about his experience as a young man wanting to find his independence by joining the U.S. Marine Corps.
The then-18-year-old found that life wasn’t going to be as he imagined after he signed up. New responsibilities in many areas awaited him, as he married shortly after joining and now he had a family to consider, as well as keeping up with his military duties.
During the early years, his unit was stationed near an island that supported submarines and they were called at various time to go to sea, not knowing how long they would be gone.
“I realized that my wife also had to make sacrifices,” Coulter said. “It was challenging, but our faith carried us through.”
Coulter added that, although he was very young when he joined the military, that one decision was one of the best things he ever did.
“I owe a lot to the Marines,” he said. “The skills, knowledge, and experiences I’ve gained have helped me in my career with the police department. I thank the Marine Corps for allowing me to deal with different people from different backgrounds.”
Sue Ellen Ross is a freelance reporter for the Post-Tribune.