The sounds of patriotic music filled downtown Havre de Grace Monday for the first Veterans Day parade in 60 years.
Spectators sat along the curbs of Washington and St. John streets, waving to veterans organizations, soldiers and others supporting and celebrating the military, including the Havre de Grace High School Marching Warriors Band.
Many waved flags, while others wore shirts or hats bearing their branch of the service.
Laurie Dawson of Aberdeen sat near Joseph L. Davis American Legion Post 47 with her husband, David, and her mother, Nancy Raymond, also of Aberdeen, and their family from Kansas who were visiting for the weekend.
They’re a military family and thought it could be a good way to celebrate.
“I heard there was a parade for the first time in 60 years, and I thought ‘how awesome is that.’ It’s usually a very somber event. This is a way to celebrate what they’ve done," Laurie Dawson said. “This town just captures the hometown parade spirit.”
David Dawson is a military brat whose father served 21 years in the Army. Laurie Dawson’s brother retried as a colonel and her nephews are helicopter pilots.
“I’m here because I love America and I’m a mother of so many active duty,” Raymond said.
Joe Frye of Aberdeen and Anthony Ciccariello of Havre de Grace watched the parade on their day off from work at Aberdeen Proving Ground.
Both retired after 21 years serving in the Army and both work for Army Communications-Electronics Command at APG.
“It’s great to be recognized,” Frye, who was deployed four times, said. “People are still out serving and a people don’t realize it. People are still dying.”
“A Veterans Day parade honors veterans past, present and future,” Ciccariello said. “It helps us connect more to the community, and the main thing is to not let us forget our veterans.”
Ruanda Cooper, who lives at APG, Kerry Jones of Havre de Grace and Aaron Culver of Kingsville rode to represent the Aberdeen chapter of the Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club, representing the 9th and 10th Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers, African-American soldiers who fought from 1866 to 1944 for the Army.
“This is a cause to celebrate the men and women who served for the nation,” Culver said. “Our goal is to continue to educate the public on the history of the 9th and 10th.”
One parade participant noted the parade drew a bigger crowd, including a lot of kids who were off school for Veterans Day for the first time, than the typical ceremony in Tydings Park.
“A lot of people showed up to watch, the weather was beautiful,” said Jason Robertson, a Havre de Grace councilman, Army veteran and drilling reservist who helped organize the parade with Johnny Boker.
“I saw a few folks with tears in their eyes,” Robertson said, including a woman who is a veteran.
He spearheaded the parade this year as part of the American Legion’s centennial celebration.
“We thought it would be cool to do what we did in the past, and to differentiate the Veterans Day and Memorial Day services," Robertson said. “Veterans Day is not a big deal for me, but it’s kind of a big deal for others. There are people who sacrificed a lot more than I did, who lost a lot more than I did. This is a way of honoring and thanking them.”
The nearly two dozen parade groups were announced by Jeff Thompson and Jay Dubree.
The parade was led by Grand Marshall Mike Bush, Post 47 commander, and his wife, Tracy.
Havre de Grace Councilwomen Casi Boyer and Carolyn Zinner walked holding a banner reading “Thank you veterans.”
“That says it all,” Thompson said.
Participating with them were Councilmen Jim Ringsaker and David Glenn and Mayor William T. Martin.
Other groups included the Civil Air Patrol, Kenwood High School JROTC, American Legion Riders, Marine Corps League/Toys for Tots, VFW Posts 3285, 6054, 8126, 10028, 8670 and 10146, American Legion Post 55, Cask Chasers, American Legion Post 17, Washington Military Collectors and VA Maryland Health Care Systems.