Kids, adults, dogs and horses marched up and down Fenwick Street in Leonardtown to honor veterans on Monday.
Members of the community as well as state and local officials participated in Leonardtown’s 44th annual Veterans Day parade and the memorial ceremony afterward in the square. Comptroller Peter Franchot (D) was one of the state officials to address the audience that afternoon.
After handing a few fifth-grade participants gold coins for the “what Veterans Day means to me” essays they wrote and read, he told the audience it is easy to forget the sacrifices veterans have made. He said the extreme left of his party can unite with the right when it comes to bringing U.S. troops home. However, he added “but who’s going to stick up” for the country’s allies.
“I’d rather do it here than there,” a man shouted from the audience.
“We’re here for our veterans, not politics,” another person yelled as Franchot continued his point.
State officials like Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md., 5th) and Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford (R) spoke about what veterans have done for the country and the sacrifices they have made.
“So many throughout our nation’s history have made that ultimate sacrifice,” Rutherford said, adding that they chose to serve out of the love they have for the country. “They choose to serve knowing there’s a chance they may not come home.”
What was referred to as the biggest parade in Maryland was filled with hundreds of participants from groups like Girl Scout troops, high school bands and tow trucking businesses. Some groups were a little more theatrical than others, like the Century 21 New Millennium of California gang. They dressed as characters from “Star Wars” “because we think our veterans are out of this world,” Janet Weaver and Kelly Padgett of the real estate office said.
The group said they change costume ideas every two years. In the past they dressed as characters from “The Wizard of Oz” because “there’s no place like home” and they once dressed as “Toy Story” characters because the veterans “keep our toys and us safe,” Weaver and Padgett both explained.
All decked out in military attire were the Knights of St. John of Mechanicsville, a religious group that participates in charity work. Levi Parker, one of the Knights of St. John, is also a veteran. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1955. He said when he told that to a boy at his church, the youngster responded “Mr. Levi, you’re old.”
A small group wearing neon green shirts was with an organization called “Youth to Teens.” The group has existed for 28 years, according to the director, Machelle Terry-Courtney, and its purpose is to promote the young people in the community.
“We want to expose every opportunity to not only the fortunate, but the less fortunate as well,” she said.
Terry-Courtney added she wants them to be engaged in all kinds of positivity. “But we are here to serve our community,” she said. “Each one, teach one, essentially.”