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Fayetteville Veterans Day parade pays tribute to past, present service members


LaMont Horsey summed it up this way: “It’s a beautiful day for a parade.”

 The Veterans Day parade — replete with marching bands, floats, motorcycles, little Shriner cars and Junior ROTC cadets representing the Army, Navy and Air Force from the surrounding high schools — played out Saturday in downtown Fayetteville.

 There were 123 units over a two-hour stretch where green proved to be a primary color of the day.

 The patriotic parade, organized by the Cumberland County Veterans Council and the city of Fayetteville, kicks off seven days of Heroes Homecoming activities leading up to Veterans Day.

 This year’s celebration includes more than 15 scheduled gatherings hosted by 35 local organizations, according to Distinctly Fayetteville’s website, formerly known as the Fayetteville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. People distributed pamphlets with the calendar of events planned for the 10th anniversary of Heroes Homecoming.

 Jane Taylor drove from Red Springs to support her 15-year-old granddaughter, Kaylee Maag-Smith, who is a member of the Seventy-First High School Air Force Junior ROTC.

 Kaylee’s goal is to become a fighter pilot with the Air Force.

 “I tell her whatever her dream is,” said Taylor, who is 70.

 She had another reason to be in downtown Fayetteville on Saturday with her daughter, Megan, and grandchildren Jaylee and Jayjeet.

 “My ex-husband was a Marine,” she said, “and I think the military needs all the support they can get. I’m proud to be an American. I support the military — all aspects of it.”

 People lined up along the edge of Hay Street and around the Market House, sitting and standing, as the procession passed by.

 Others sat in the bleachers in front of the main stage, at the corner of Hay and Ray Avenue.

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“It’s been pretty decent,” the 65-year-old Horsey said of the parade after leaving his spot leaning against the front window of a Hay Street deli. “And it’s been a while since I’ve been down to one because of COVID and everything. I think we should always give back to veterans when we can and all we can.”

Kingston Taylor edged out onto the side of the road waving an American flag at the parade participants. Tonya Bennett, who is retired military, was keeping an eye on the 4-year-old, who landed a big hug from Cumberland County Commissioner Charles Evans.

“We Love Our Veterans” read a sign held by a scout with Boy Scout Troop 787 out of Fayetteville.

“Airborne,” yelled out a fellow from the passenger side of a Military Affairs Council vehicle while eyeing a couple of men on the sidelines wearing veterans caps.

“All the way,” one of the men responded in agreement.

Jennifer Martinez, 42, was on hand to support her husband, an Air Force veteran and part of the color guard of the Fayetteville Independent Light Infantry Brigade. She said she usually attends the Veterans Day Parade because her husband is usually in it.

“I have a strong background working with the military,” Martinez said. “My family has strong ties with the military and our son, Havier McMillan, serves in the Navy.”

Harold Reynolds and his wife, Ericca, of Fayetteville sat together for the event. Harold Reynolds, who is 54, said Fort Bragg was his first duty station after enlistment. He served 31 years in the Army.

After his military stint, he said, “There was no other place we could think of to retire.”

So, in 2017, the couple settled in Fayetteville.

He participated in a Fayetteville Veterans Day Parade in 2004. His unit tasked him to be part of the parade.

They consider it important to attend the annual parade.

“Sharing support for the community,” he said. “Not just for veterans but people of the community. They show up. Just like active-duty soldiers show up for them.”

Michael Futch covers Fayetteville and education for CityView. He can be reached at mfutch@cityviewnc.com. 


Veterans Day parade, downtown Fayetteville