Parade, ceremony to honor local veterans

Published 2:00 am Saturday, November 8, 2008

Countless sacrifices have been made by individuals throughout Covington County to ensure that our freedom remains secure.

Area residents are invited to join a celebration to honor those families in downtown Andalusia Tuesday.

The Fifth Annual Covington County Veteran’s Day Parade and POW/MIA Ceremony will begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday at Andalusia High School and will end at the Covington County Veterans Memorial Park behind Andalusia City Hall.

Veterans will begin meeting at 8:30 a.m. in the Andalusia High School parking lot to occupy several floats representing World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, Cold War, Desert Storm War, Operation Enduring Freedom War and Operation Iraqi Freedom War.

Ashley Eiland, executive vice president of the Andalusia Area Chamber of Commerce, said family and friends of the veterans are invited to the parking lot for a meet and greet before the parade begins.

“We will be accepting all veterans, family members of veterans and anyone who would like to join us in that part,” she said. “The chamber certainly wants to encourage all of the residents to join us in honoring all veterans, young and old, that have and continue to fight for the freedoms we enjoy.”

In addition to the floats the parade will also feature musical entertainment from the Straughn High School “Sound of Gold” marching band, the Opp High School “Marching Black and Gold,” the Andalusia High School “A Sound Tradition” marching band and the Fort Rucker 98th Army Band.

Following the parade a veterans’ memorial service will be held in Covington County Veterans Memorial Park located behind city hall.

Major Michael Tomberlin, a graduate of Andalusia High School and veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, will be the guest speaker for the event.

John Givhan, who served as an Army helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War, said residents should seize the opportunity to attend Tuesday’s event and meet some of those who fought for our nation’s freedom.

“Please participate in this patriotic (and) educational, endeavor,” he said. “Please be there for the parade and then remain for the ceremony that will include a keynote speaker, the 98th Army Band, a firing team and recognition of all veterans both living and dead.”

Givhan said the event is equally important for the veterans who will attend to ride floats and the families of the veterans who will not be able to witness the event.

“Being a part of this day, especially children and young people, is paramount,” he said. “Meeting and appreciating a veteran is a one of a kind treat for a veteran. This Vietnam War helicopter pilot veteran can attest to that. When a young person says ‘welcome home’ to me, my old wrinkled face transforms into a smile.”

A reception, sponsored by Covington County Commission, will follow the memorial service on the second floor of city hall.