Tupelo to honor region's vets with parade

BY ANDY KANENGISER

Daily Journal

TUPELO – Northeast Mississippi soldiers who battled insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan will be honored along with other military veterans during a patriotic parade next week.

“It is to support all the veterans, whether they were in war or not,” said parade director Joe Hester, a leader with the American Legion Post 49.

Part of star-spangled events nationwide leading to Memorial Day, next Saturday's parade will include marching bands, cheerleaders, Boy Scouts, police, firefighters and civic organizations. At least 40 units are signed up for the parade, which will begin at 10 a.m. at Tupelo High School and wrap up an hour later at Ballard Park. A park program with speakers and music will follow. Festivities conclude at 2:30 p.m.

Tupelo Mayor Ed Neelly, City Council members and military leaders from throughout the South will participate. The American Legion's own Southbound Band will help supply the entertainment. Food vendors will add spice.

It's the first time in many years Tupelo has hosted a parade to honor its military veterans, said Hester, who served in Operation Desert Storm/Desert Shield.

More patriotism

It's not the only big patriotic event in Lee County over Memorial Weekend. At 10 a.m. Saturday, flags will be supplied by the American Legion to Gilvo Cemetery.

The American flags will honor the memories of military veterans buried there. Some of those being saluted fought in the Civil War, World War I, World War II or more recent conflicts.

Jean Walters began putting flags on veterans' graves at the cemetery seven years ago. Michael Stafford, who was wounded last year during his Army duty in Iraq and lives near Tupelo, will raise the American flag at the ceremonies.

Contact Andy Kanengiser at 678-1590 or andy.kanengiser@djournal.com