• Wintry weather dampens Veterans Day parade

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  • Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
    Members of the Fort Leavenworth and Leavenworth communities endured cold temperatures and falling snow to pay tribute to veterans at the 99th annual Leavenworth County Veterans Day Parade Nov. 12 in downtown Leavenworth.
    The Leavenworth parade is the largest parade west of the Mississippi and the oldest continuous running parade in the nation.
    “This day gives us the opportunity to celebrate the bravery and sacrifice of all U.S. veterans,” said Dan Wiley, emcee at the reviewing stand on 7th and Delaware streets.
    This year’s theme for the parade was “The War to End All Wars” in honor of the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.
    Before the parade began, Wiley shared a proclamation letter from President Donald Trump.
    “As we mark the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I on Nov. 11, 1918, we humbly express our everlasting appreciation to our veterans for their selfless sacrifice as champions of freedom,’” he quoted. “‘Our veterans have earned the utmost respect and admiration of this proud nation. May God bless America’s veterans and those currently serving in our military, and may he continue to bless the United States of America.’”
    This year, the parade included three grand marshals.
    Army and Navy veteran David Jones served in World War II from 1943 to 1945 and continued his service for 20 years. He was the post commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 56 from 1988 to 1989 and was commander of District 1 from 1993 to 1994.
    Marine Corps veteran John Ochs served in the Korean War from 1951 to 1953. He was a draftee and also served in Japan. He is a life member of VFW Post 56 in Leavenworth.
    Retired Army Command Sgt. Maj. Jana Harrison was inducted into the 104-Kansas National Guard Hall of Fame as its first woman inductee. She joined the military in 1975 and was the first command sergeant major of the Kansas Army National Guard.
    Fort Leavenworth parade participants included the Fort Leavenworth Garrison, Medical Department Activity, Fort Leavenworth Fire and Emergency Services, the 15th Military Police Brigade and the Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery.
    At 11 a.m., the parade stopped for the playing of taps. Then Lt. Gen. Michael Lundy, Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth commanding general, led four incoming soldiers — Austin Searcy, Mohammed Al Ani, Bilal Barazanehi and Donnelle Listion — in reciting the oath of enlistment.
    Lundy then recognized three local veterans for their service with the Commander’s Award for Public Service.
    “Fort Leavenworth expresses gratitude to three local veterans who have made significant contributions of their time, talents and leadership to make Leavenworth County a safer place and to improve the quality of life for veterans, service members and their families,” said George Marcec, Garrison Public Affairs operations officer.
    Page 2 of 2 - The first awardee was veteran Airman 1st Class Patricia Riner, a member of the Veterans Day Parade committee, an American Legion leader and community volunteer. Due to illness, Riner was unable to attend, so Rod Zeimer, American Legion Post 23, accepted the award on her behalf.
    “It was a great honor to represent her for what she has done for the community and even for me,” Zeimer said. “I’ve known Pat since 1992 and she’s just been a super leader of the legion and the community and helps everybody out. She’s done a lot to help me and get me going in legion functions.”
    The second awardee was retired Petty Officer 1st Class Jim Timmons, ceremonial bugler and community volunteer. He has also been on the parade committee for more than 10 years. Timmons said it meant a lot to receive the award.
    “It is up to us old retirees to keep up the spirit of the United States of America and tell America’s story,” he said, “and do our part to make this country great and keep it that way.”
    The final awardee was retired Col. Sam Young, a ceremonial bugler and community volunteer.
    “I appreciate the recognition, but I really do it for the service that our service members do and to honor them and their families,” Young said.
    Young has been playing taps for various ceremonies, including the parade, since 1962.
    “It is just an emotional feeling that I have,” he said. “It is a way I have of honoring service members to the members’ families.”
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