• Celebrating Veterans Day

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  • Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
    The 98th annual Leavenworth County Veterans Day Parade — the oldest and one of the largest Veterans Day parades in the nation — was Nov. 11 in downtown Leavenworth.
    “This day gives us the opportunity to celebrate the bravery and sacrifice of all United States veterans,” said Dan Wiley, emcee at the reviewing stand on 7th and Delaware streets.
    This year’s theme for the parade was “Honoring All Who Served.” Wiley shared a letter from the Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin who quoted President Woodrow Wilson in his 1919 proclamation of the first Veterans Day.
    “‘To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory…’ Indeed we owe tremendous gratitude to those who answered the call of duty,” Wiley quoted. “Later, President Dwight D. Eisenhower proclaimed Nov. 11, 1954, as America’s first Veterans Day. He did so ‘in order that a grateful nation might pay appropriate homage to the veterans of all its wars who have contributed so much to the preservation of this nation…’”
    Retired Lt. Col. Lynn Rolf Jr. served as the parade’s grand marshal.
    The Leavenworth High School Junior ROTC, represented by Cadet Maj. Taylor McLean and Cadet Command Sgt. Maj. Daylan Williams, served as the honorary grand marshal because of the JROTC program’s historic birthday, Wiley said.
    “The Leavenworth JROTC was founded in 1896 after a group of students concerned about world events, particularly in Cuba, approached Fort Leavenworth to arrange instruction in military drills and tactics,” Wiley said. “When the Reserve Officer Training Corps was established in 1916, Leavenworth was among the first granted a junior program early in 1917.”
    Area schools, fire departments, police departments and organizations around the state were represented, including those from Fort Leavenworth. The 15th Military Police Brigade Color Guard led the parade, and contingents from all Fort Leavenworth units marched in the parade.
    At 11 a.m., the parade was stopped for the playing of “Taps,” and the first flyover for the parade in eight years featuring a KC-135 from the 22nd Air Refueling Wing, based in Wichita, Kan.
    Maj. Gen. James Mingus, director of the Fort Leavenworth Mission Command Center of Excellence, led nine incoming soldiers — Janie Bentley, Sarai Garcia, Vance Johnson, Dane Carter, Darius Woods, Michael Bernier, Eugene Lago, Robert Bagwell and Stephanie Turnquist — in reciting the oath of enlistment.
    Two local civilians were recognized for their service. Master Deputy Robert Oliver Jr., Leavenworth County Sheriff’s Office and Officer John Gable, Lansing Police Department, were presented the Commander’s Award for Public Service by Mingus on behalf of the installation.
    Page 2 of 2 - Gable said he was surprised when he found out he was receiving the award.
    “It felt good,” he said.
    Steve Cormier, Garrison adjutant general, helped judge the float contest. The winners were selected based on originality, creativity, patriotism and the parade theme.”
    “Honorable mentions to the guys in kilts,” Cormier said. “It was cold.”
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