ENTERPRISE, Ala. (WTVY) — The Enterprise Veterans Parade Committee this year is encouraging a partnership between veterans of the past and present with those of the future.
With the theme “Patriotism Across the Generations,” the Nov. 8 parade will celebrate Americans’ love of country and appreciation for those who have sacrificed to serve as the nation’s defenders through the decades, say committee members. They are inviting school groups, church classes and youth groups, Girl and Boy Scout units, etc., to participate by honoring the beloved veterans in their lives.
“We welcome young people, individually, or as part of a group project with their church organizations or school clubs, to reach out to their veteran parents, grandparents, a neighbor or family friend,” says committee member Nancy Rathburn. “They can join together in the parade, either marching with a group or riding a trailer or vehicle. Together, they will be shining examples of how the spirit of patriotism that has sustained the country through the ages will be sustained in future generations.”
Members of this year’s committee are Otis Smith, VFW Post 6683 commander; Nancy Rathburn, VFW Auxiliary president; Tom Ferguson, commander of the Disabled American Veterans Chapter #9; Buddy Keen, commander of the American Legion Post 73; Robert Green, commander of the Order of the Purple Heart Veterans, Chapter 2216; Pedra Munoz, VFW; Gerry Merrihew, DAV; Adele Hawkins of Team Red White and Blue; SSG Samuel Grace, 1st Battalion, 212th Aviation Regiment, Fort Rucker; and Col. Dennis Griffin, Senior Army Instructor, Enterprise High School JROTC.
Committee members have been making plans for the parade, and the other annual ceremonies surrounding the national Veterans Day observance Nov. 11, for several weeks and are excited to seek widespread participation by local youth.
They are hopeful that children, youth, local veterans and service members will be enthusiastic about this year’s parade concept and will come together to make the parade meaningful and fun.
“This parade is simple – it’s all about the veterans,” Rathburn says.
The parade will be at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 8. It traditionally takes place on the Thursday before Nov. 11. Line-up will be between 4:30 and 5:30 p.m. on Railroad Street by the Depot Museum. Committee members stressed that entry vehicles must enter Railroad Street from College Street near the Museum. The parade will end at W. Watts Street.
Immediately after the parade at about 7 p.m. will be the Veterans Tribute ceremony at the Enterprise Farmers Market. Nominees for the Veteran and Active Service Member of the Year will be recognized and the winners will be announced.
The deadline for accepting nominations is Oct. 26. The Veteran and Service Member of the Year serve as the parade Grand Marshals.
A traditional wreath-laying ceremony will be conducted at the Wall of Freedom, at the entrance of the Enterprise Recreational Complex, on Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 7, at 5:30 p.m. Lt. Col. Cal Nix, commander of the city’s partnership unit, 1st Battalion, 212th Aviation Regiment, will be the speaker.
A newly established award will also be announced during the wreath-laying ceremony, which recognizes the fallen soldiers whose names are on the Wall of Freedom for having died in battle in service of the their country. The ceremony also memorializes all soldiers who have served and sacrificed and have now departed this earth.
The new award, the Enterprise Veterans Memorial Community Service Award, has been established this year in honor of the late retired Chief Warrant officer 5 James Rathburn, who died earlier this year. Rathburn was the commander of VFW Post 6683 and therefore chairman of the Veterans Parade Committee at the time of his death earlier this year.
He had served 38 years in the U.S. Army, having served overseas in multiple countries on multiple combat tours and had commanded the Joint Combat Support Detachment, Joint Communications Support Element, MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. His Army career culminated when he served as the chief of the Academic Instruction Division for the Warrant Officer Career College.
Upon his retirement, Rathburn expanded his already blossoming relationship with Enterprise, which he and his wife, Nancy, chose as their home. He became active in VFW Post 6683, rising to the post of commander, and became involved in numerous other community service projects.
Rathburn was also a former Veterans Parade Grand Marshall and had been selected as Service Member of the Year in 2013.
Committee members chose to establish the Community Service Award in Rathburn’s memory, and the first recipient will be honored Nov. 7. The award will recognize a recently-deceased veteran who in his or her lifetime epitomized the spirit of community service, dedication to the cause of veterans and patriotic pride. The recognition will be awarded each year hereafter by DAV Chapter 9 leaders at the Wreath-Laying Ceremony.
“We hold those who have served and those who are still serving close to our hearts every day here in Enterprise,” said Mayor William E. “Bill” Cooper. “Veterans and active duty service members and their families make up a significant part of our city’s population and provide countless hours of service to our community in a variety of ways.”
Enterprise is a particularly patriotic city, Cooper said, adding, “we are fortunate to have veterans and active duty personnel in our midst, enriching our community with their time, talents, knowledge and service.”
The Mayor said everyone should be thankful to veterans and current military members every day of the year, but he is looking forward to the days surrounding the Nov. 11 holiday when Enterprise sets aside a special time to show gratitude and much-deserved thanks.
School groups, church groups, other organizations and all businesses who employ veterans are urged to enter the parade and allow the community to honor their veterans.
Registration forms for the parade are available on the city website at www.enterprise al.com or from any Veterans Parade Committee member. Entry forms can also be obtained from Kay Kirkland by visiting her office at the Enterprise Farmers Market or contacting her at 334-348-2310.