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17th-annual Veterans on Parade set for Saturday

  • Wendell Stritzel is building a float to honor the 13 American service members killed in a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, last month.

    Wendell Stritzel is building a float to honor the 13 American service members killed in a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, last month.
    Holly Kee photo

  • VA volunteer Rob Hagn, in his role as 'Uncle Sam' is a familiar face each year for the Veterans on Parade event.

    VA volunteer Rob Hagn, in his role as 'Uncle Sam' is a familiar face each year for the Veterans on Parade event.
    Marion Republican file photo

  • The annual Veterans on Parade draws hundreds to Marion each year.

    The annual Veterans on Parade draws hundreds to Marion each year.
    Marion Republican file photo

  • Twenty members of the Murphysboro Elks Club marched while carrying their giant 20 by 40 foot American flag march in 15th Annual Veterans Parade in Marion.

    Twenty members of the Murphysboro Elks Club marched while carrying their giant 20 by 40 foot American flag march in 15th Annual Veterans Parade in Marion.
    Marion Republican file photo

 
BY HOLLY KEE
hkee@localsouthernnews.com
Posted on 9/8/2021, 1:49 AM

For the 17th straight year, veterans and first responders across the southern Illinois region will fill the streets of Marion from the Junior High School to the Williamson County Fairgrounds, a celebration to honor their service.

The 17th-annual Veterans on Parade is a "go" this year, and according to Ed Davis, co-founder and president of the Veterans on Parade, he's expecting over 130 entries in this year's parade.

"We were down a bit last due to COVID," he said.

Davis said this year's parade has extra special meaning in the wake of the loss of 13 armed service members in a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, last month.

In fact, Davis said a Marion man is building a float to honor those service members.

Wendell Stritzel, an Illinois State Police retiree, was working on the float Monday evening.

A simple design with flags, boots, and a rifle, Stritzel said he wanted to honor the 13.

"I've heard people say they died in vain," he said quietly. "I don't believe that. They have brought back patriotism."

Davis said this year's parade will feature marching bands from Marion High School, Carbondale High School, Carbondale Junior High School, and a bagpipe band from St. Louis.

"There will also be at least one Gold Star Mom," he said.

The parade will end at the Williamson County Fairgrounds with a memorial service.

"We're going to dedicate a 25-foot flagpole in front of the pavilion," said Davis. "It's dedicated to all American Veterans."

Davis said he and his committee raised funds for the flagpole over the past year.

There will also be a 21-gun salute and the playing of the national anthem by a Murphysboro first responder.

"We're looking to honor a lot of people," he said, adding that he's banking on the people of southern Illinois to turn out in support. "We want to make this 9/11 a day to honor all American heroes."

Saturday marks the 20th anniversary of the deadly 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.

Parade will begin at 10 a.m. at the Marion Junior High and proceed east until it reaches the Williamson County Fairgrounds.