Veterans honored in Memorial Day parade
People lined the streets armed with water bottles and American flags in the heat that marked the unofficial first day of summer to honor those in the military, especially those who gave their lives.
Veterans from wars past and present gathered on Main Street in Thomasville Monday to celebrate Memorial Day in one of the holiday’s largest parade events in the state.
The beginning ceremony invited all service members to march in the parade and to tell their stories to the audience.
Curry Regan, 94, fought in the Battle of the Bulge and his voice reflected a man who was touched by the celebration that honored him and his fellow soldiers as he spoke to the crowd.
“I thank God, it’s such a blessing to be here today,” Regan said.
“This day is a special day for him and all the veterans here,” Regan’s son, Eddie Regan, added. “So many come out and recognize the sacrifice these soldiers make.”
Judge Jimmy Myers, a retired veteran of 28 years, also spoke.
“This day is special to me because of my family who gave their lives and service,” he said. “If it weren’t for the men and women who serve this nation, we wouldn’t have a Fourth of July.”
The parade was packed with military vehicles, tanks, motorcycles and other military gear.
Robert Nelson brought his 8-year-old granddaughter, Adrianna, to see the event.
“Memorial Day is a big remembrance really … we thank God for all of the veterans and for all of the sacrifices they’ve made.”
Soldiers were dressed in uniforms varying from white sailor attire to Marine uniforms colored with badges across the chest.
As they walked through the streets, passersby thanked them for their service, some shook their hands.
Keith Harrison retired from the National Guard in 2008 and carried his flag accompanied by his service dog, Elliott.
“He helps me with my post traumatic stress,” Harrison said as he pet his furry companion.
Elliott was named after a soldier named Daniel Lucas Elliott, who died in 2011 from an improvised explosive device, also known as an IED, in Iraq, Harrison said.
Harrison also had a close call with an IED when he served as a medic, he said. The explosion from the IED gave him a head injury.
“Stuff happens,” Harrison said with a smile. “I’d do it again.”
The Army Ground Forces Band hit their drums to mark the start of the parade. A group of veterans formed in front of the Novant Health tent holding tall American Flags that they held high as they marched in the parade. As they marched, the crowd clapped and cheered for them.
Gov. Pat McCrory rode on the back of a Chevrolet convertible that followed, and he waved at the crowd, speaking to bystanders on the side.
“I got to talk to some of the veterans over there and, boy, that put everything in perspective,” McCrory said.
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