Lawrence County’s third Veterans Parade was well attended in Moulton Friday, despite the teeth-chattering cold front that had swept in that day.
The parade, organized by Moulton resident Loretta Gillespie, Lawrence County History and Preservation Society President Ann Britnell and County Archivist Wendy Hazle, began at 4 p.m. in downtown Moulton.
The parade was moved to an earlier date and time in hopes it would give young children an opportunity to learn more about American history and veterans, Gillespie said.
“The committee experimented a bit with having the parade earlier. Friday posed a lot of obstacles that we didn’t encounter on Saturdays,” Gillespie added. “There were so many people who were always so good to enter the parade, but they couldn’t this time because they couldn’t take off work.”
Next year’s Veterans Parade will likely be held on Veterans Day when many people are off work and school is out, Gillespie said. The group also hopes to work with Moulton and county officials to provide a space where attendees and participants can gather in shelter from the cold next November.
“We owe these men and women a huge debt of gratitude. Our veterans endured so much,” Gillespie said. “They didn’t give up on us; I’m not willing to give up on them because of a little cold weather.”
Immediately following the parade, attendees, veterans and parade participants gathered on the city’s historic courthouse square lawn for a candlelight ceremony.
The ceremony featured a brief presentation from this year’s Grand MarshallshaFred Gillespie and a special flag service with members from the American Legion Post 25 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8362.
During the service, members of each branch of the military were invited to come forward for recognition from the audience. Audience members also got a chance to thank each veteran personally before leaving the service by lining up to shake their hands on the square.
The Veterans Parade became an annual celebration in Moulton three years ago when organizer Loretta Gillespie said she was placed in charge of Lawrence County’s Alabama Bicentennial planning committee.
“Out of the blue, it hit me that there had never been a Veterans Parade that anyone could recall,” Gillespie said. “I didn’t know what could possibly be a better, more worthwhile project (for the state’s bicentennial) than honoring our veterans. I also thought it was high time to have one.”
As plans for the first Veterans Parade began coming together, Gillespie also reached out to Fred Gillespie—a member of both the American Legion Post 25 and the VFW Post 8362.
“He called me, and I was elated to hear that Lawrence County has chapters for both the Legion and the VFW,” Loretta Gillespie said. “This really is all about them and for them, so it was important that they were involved. Their assistance and willingness to work made the parade possible,” she said.
Gillespie said volunteers and community participation also make the parade possible each year.
“Volunteers make our efforts run smoothly… Without volunteers, everything just stops,” said Gillespie. “Please consider offering your time and talents to any project you might be passionate about and willing to donate your time to. Volunteers make our community. Thanks to all of you who helped with various projects last year, including the Veterans Parade.”
For more information, or to help with the annual event, contact Loretta Gillespie at 256-476-1166. To make a contribution to local veterans of Lawrence County, contact American Legion Post 25 Commander Philip Terry at 256-565-6266.