MARIETTA - With sunny skies and temperatures into the 70s, Sunday's weather seemed custom-made for Marietta's Veterans Day celebration, drawing hundreds who lined the streets for the annual parade and ceremonies that followed in downtown Marietta.
Nine-year-old Jadin Buckman of Marietta knew what Veterans Day was all about as he shook the hand of Vietnam veteran Larry Block and thanked him for his service.
"I'm probably going to join someday, too," Buckman said.
Photo by Sam Shawver
A World War II-era military jeep makes its way along Putnam Street during Sunday’s Veterans Day Parade in Marietta.
Block, 62, of Belpre, served with a U.S. Army Airborne unit during the war, and served in Cambodia from 1969 to 1971. He was the third American to touch down on Cambodian soil in 1969.
"Be sure and become a paratrooper so you can jump out of planes like we did," he told Jadin.
Asked why he thanked veterans for their military service, Jadin said it felt good.
"Becaue they've helped us," he said. "If they didn't we might not be alive today. Or maybe we would still be alive, but we wouldn't have our freedom."
Vincent resident John Lawrence, who works with the National Guard Bureau in Washington, D.C., brought his whole family to Sunday's ceremonies. He was glad to see the crowds turn out on Veterans Day.
"Patriotism never goes away," Lawrence said. "In some years it's just more openly displayed than in others. But we love these small towns, and Marietta always has a good Veterans Day celebration."
Bryan Moffatt, of Marietta, also brought his family to witness Sunday's parade.
"We bring the kids out to educate them about our veterans and what they've done for our country," he said. "And when they get older I hope they'll do the same with their children. Our veterans have given a lot for us."
The parade ended at East Muskingum Park with ceremonies that included a rifle salute by veterans in memory of their fallen comrades.
Regis Kern, commander of American Legion Post 64 in Marietta, reminded the crowd that Veterans Day is to be celebrated at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month of every year.
"How quickly the nation forgets those who fought and died for their country," he said.
"But every day is a blessing that reminds me of my brothers in arms who didn't come home from the wars and who won't be remembered unless we commit to remember them."
Former U.S. Marine and Marietta Mayor Joe Matthews was keynote speaker during Sunday's event.
"Veterans Day is a reminder to guard the legacy that has been left us by our forefathers," he said. "That legacy is freedom in every American heart. It's central to our being, but is only attained through eternal vigilance. And freedom is never free."
Matthews said that's why the nation must keep its arms at the ready and its military forces strong.
"America can never fully repay our veterans for their service, but we must not forget the sacrifices of all those who served in wars and conflicts," he said. "Our veterans have served us well, and we must continue to honor and support them."