By Ethan Colbert
After a decades long hiatus, the local Memorial Day Parade through downtown Bowling Green will return later this month.
The parade is being organized by the members of the Champ Clark Memorial V.F.W. Post No. 5553 and the post auxiliary.
According to parade organizers, the parade is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. at the War Memorial, which is located on the southwest corner of the Pike County Courthouse, and proceed down West Main Street for one block. The parade will then turn north on North Main Cross and proceed on that street until the parade reaches Memorial Gardens Cemetery.
According to local V.F.W. Post Commander Jim Marshall, the local V.F.W. Post has partnered with the Pike County Fairboard to use the “People Movers” to transport veterans who are unable to walk the parade route. All veterans, regardless of V.F.W. membership, are invited to either walk or ride in the parade.
Marshall says that the parade is open to all local businesses, civic groups, student organizations, and individuals who wish to show their support for local veterans and veterans who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to their nation. Those wishing to participate in the parade should check-in at the War Memorial prior to 9:30.
“We welcome anybody in the parade,” Marshall said in a telephone interview last week. “We welcome kids on bicycles. We welcome high school kids. We welcome anybody who wants to show their support for veterans.”
According to Marshall, the Bowling Green High School Marching Band has already agreed to perform in the parade. Invitations have also been extended to the local girl scouts, boy scouts, and cub scouts organizations.
Out of respect for the somber meaning of the Memorial Day holiday, parade organizers are asking that all parade participants refrain from throwing candy to parade viewers. However, organizers say that if parade participants wished to distribute small American flags or other patriotic themed items during the parade that would be acceptable.
Following the parade, the VFW and the local Auxiliary will hold the group’s traditional Memorial Day remembrance ceremony at Memorial Gardens Cemetery. The ceremony begins at 10 a.m. at the cemetery. This year’s featured speaker for the Memorial Day Program is Missouri State Representative Jim Hansen (R-Frankford).
Due to the return of the Memorial Day Parade, organizers for the Cancer Park Foundation’s Remembrance Ceremony have adjusted the start time for their program. This year the program will begin at 8:45 a.m.
In his telephone interview, Marshall said he was excited to bring the Memorial Day Parade back to the streets of Bowling Green.
“A lot of people have forgotten what the original intent of Memorial Day was,” Marshall said. “The original intent was honoring the Union soldiers who had died in the Civil War. Today, we honor all servicemen and women, regardless of the war they served.”
Local resident Doris Lindsey, who is also a member of the local V.F.W. Auxiliary, said she too was excited about the news of the Memorial Day Parade.
“It is something that I remember as a child standing outside of our house and waving a small flag as the parade passed,” Lindsey said. “I think the parade brings back the meaning of Memorial Day and honoring our veterans.”
Bowling Green resident Ryan Bibb described the news of the Memorial Day Parade’s return as “great news.”
“The Memorial Day Parade was always a special memory for me as a kid,” Bibb said. In his telephone interview, Bibb said he was looking forward to participating in this year’s parade with his children — Philip, Jack, Connor and Jorie.
“The Memorial Day Parade gives us the opportunity to focus back on the true meaning of the day and honor those who have served and lost their lives,” Bibb said.