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Veteran’s Day parade shuffles focus

Dennis Wahlman / Mainstream
The local Veteran’s Day parade should focus on those who have sacrificed for this country: vets, military personnel and public service workers.

Once a year, Roseburg puts on a parade to honor our service men and women who serve this country. This year the parade consisted of about 100 entries: veterans, local businesses, schools, clubs, organizations and current military personnel.
As a soldier in the National Guard, I volunteered to be in the parade with my brother, Hank, who is also in the Guard.
The crowd loved seeing the armored Humvees with soldiers in the turrets and the LMTVs (light medium tactical vehicle) with families of the soldiers in the back. They also enjoyed when the parade stopped, seeing the soldiers drop to the ground and do push-ups. I know personally, as the only female soldier walking with the other males, the crowd cheered even louder for me as I got down and started pushing. My sergeant made the comment that he thinks his female soldier may be stronger than most of his male soldiers. I enjoyed it.
However, I was thoroughly disappointed when I found out that the National Guard was almost the very last in the parade.
I understand that you typically save the best for last to hold people throughout the entire event. Santa doesn’t lead the Christmas parades; he is always at the end. I am not trying to come off as selfish by saying I believe the Guard should be first; I am simply saying I did not agree with this year’s parade lineup.
When you look up, you should see the Color Guard of the Military leading the way, not the color guard of the high school marching band. Emphasis should be given first to the soldiers in military uniforms, not the kilt uniforms of the Scottish Society. I feel as though we forget the intent of this parade.
The purpose of this parade should be unlike any other. It is for the crowd to honor the veterans of the United States of America. It is not supposed to be a show or form of entertainment. It’s great to see the community in the parade supporting their troops but, in my opinion, it starts to turn into a commercialized advertisement for some.
In this two hour long parade, there is room for everyone, but by the end people are leaving if they haven’t left already. I believe the National Guard along with Reserves should be the front runners leading the way for the true veterans to come right after. The two components truly understand the feelings and emotions of the veterans which is why they should be coupled with the vets.
Along with the Guard and vets should be the public service men and women: the firefighters, paramedics, police and search and rescue at the front of the parade. These three groups are the people who sacrifice so much and thus should be honored.
By the end of the parade there were minimal amounts of cheering as me, my brother, and the rest of the Guard marched down the lane. This was very disheartening to me because although we may not be “vets” we are actively defending freedom. Currently, Charlie Company, Roseburg’s Infantry Unit, has been deployed to Afghanistan for six months and will remain for another three months or until the mission is complete.
This parade is not only a celebration of thanks for the soldiers (both past and present) but also for their families and friends. These select people go without certain luxuries in order for citizens to have abundance. Many military service men and women go unnoticed or get taken for granted. They rarely ever want direct recognition, but they do want you to appreciate the personal life they postpone (think of Charlie Company) for your sake.
So remember this when you thank a vet, you are not necessarily thanking them for their service, you are thanking them for their sacrifice. And maybe part of that thanks should include putting all service men and women together at the beginning of a veterans’ parade.