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Charleston Veterans Day Parade gets federal nod

CHARLESTON, W.Va.-- Charleston's Veterans Day Parade on Saturday has been designated as a model for the rest of the country's celebrations of veterans.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs selected Charleston as one 62 regional sites across the nation to stand out during this year's Veterans Day observance.

Edward Converse, parade organizer for American Legion John Brawley Post No. 20, said the recognition couldn't have come at a better time, as the parade celebrates its 70th anniversary in the capital city.

The parade will begin Saturday at 10 a.m. at the intersection of Kanawha Boulevard E. and Leon Sullivan Way. Participants will march north on Leon Sullivan to Quarrier Street, turn left onto Truslow Street and end at Haddad Riverfront Park.

Cmdr. Adam D. Palmer, commanding officer of the ballistic missile submarine USS West Virginia, is parade grand marshal and will speak at Haddad at about 11 a.m., Converse said. Several other members of the nuclear missile boat's crew will be there, as well.  

This is the first time Charleston has been selected as a standout city.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki sent Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin a letter this summer announcing the decision.

"With your support, I know that Veterans Day celebrations throughout West Virginia will remind veterans of our sincere gratitude for their service and sacrifice," Shinseki wrote.

Converse, who served in the U.S. Army's 3rd Armored Division in Germany during the Cold War, said it's an honor to have Charleston's efforts recognized in honoring veterans.

"We are hoping to hold on to that designation until next year," he said.

Photos and news articles about the parade and ceremony will be featured on the Veteran Affairs website, he said.

The parade began in 1942 to honor those serving in World War II and the victims of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

It has grown since then, Converse said, and in recent years the parade has stretched to about a mile and a half long. This year will be even larger, with the inclusion of several Scout troops and area high school ROTC cadets.

"And we always hope for more," he said.

In preparation for the parade, Kanawha Boulevard will be closed from Brooks Street to Clendenin Street starting at 7 a.m., and Quarrier Street will be closed between Leon Sullivan to Truslow while the parade moves through town.

Traffic on Virginia Street and the side streets between Leon Sullivan and Truslow will be restricted during the parade. Charleston police will direct traffic at those intersections. Drivers coming through town are asked to consider using Interstate 64, MacCorkle Avenue, Lee Street and Washington Street.

Reach Travis Crum at travis.crum@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5163.


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