Veterans Day has been a national holiday, honoring individuals who have served in the United States Armed Forces of our great country since 1938. Northwest Indiana, The Region, has its fair share of both active and retired military personnel, including over a dozen activities around the area being held to honor our local heroes, both active and retired. This year, the City of Hammond Parks Department hosted their 4th Annual Veterans Appreciation Day Parade. The parade’s Grand Marshal and keynote speaker, Hammond’s 4th District Councilman and US Army Vietnam Veteran, William Emerson, Sr., 18th Combat Engineer Brigade, spoke about what makes the Hammond parade so special what it meant for him to be a major participant in it.
“I’m very honored to be the Grand Marshall,” said Emerson. “We’re the only [parade] in The Region, and this is the 4th one. We moved from downtown [to our current parade location], and every year we’ve noticed it gets bigger and better.”
Veterans from all branches of the military filled the floats with their heroic presence while individuals, families, and students lined the avenue along 173rd street all the way from Olcott Avenue to the Hessville Park Veterans Memorial on the corner of 173rd and Kennedy Avenue. The parade participants were plentiful and included members of local American Legions and VFW posts, musical entertainment from several local high school bands, politicians, the Hammond Police and Fire Departments, vintage military vehicles, Those Funny Little People and a flyover by the Lima Lima Flight Team.
What truly made the parade special, however, were the many people who braved the cold and came out in support. US flags flew from the yards of homes along the avenue, while attendees also waved them with pride. From infants to the elderly, seniors sat on lawn chairs while families huddled together in observation.
Melissa Berumen, one of the many in attendance, stood with her children and spoke about why she brought them out to the parade, while also addressing what the Veterans Day Holiday means to her.
“Their grandfathers served in wars that we’ve had, and my daughter’s godmother is in the National Guard and she served over in Afghanistan when I was pregnant with my son,” explained Berumen. “Everything that the veterans do means a lot to us.”
Speaking of youth, the younger generation also chimed in with their opinion, as Juliana Sarwacinski, a cheerleader at the Hammond Academy of Science and Technology, eloquently summed up the meaning of Veterans Day with her own personal interpretation of the holiday.
“It means to honor all the people who fought for our country and fought for us to be here today,” Sarwacinski said. “It makes me feel happy and sad, because of the lives we’ve lost, but at the same time we’re celebrating them and the people who are still fighting for us.”
Hammond, IN 46320
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