By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
95 years ago, the armistice was signed ending the ‘War to End All Wars’…..It did not end war, but for decades today would be remembered as Armistice day. All the veterans of World War I are dead now, but their memory and their example remains. Their children fought in World War II and Korea, their grandchildren fought in Vietnam, their great grandchildren fought in Panama, Somalia, Desert Storm, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq. They have great great grandchildren on duty today fighting the war on terror in Afghanistan and in posts around the world.
Eventually the day that the armistice was signed ending ‘The Great War’ would become the day that Americans honors her veterans. Birmingham was where Armistice first became Veterans Day and it is home of the oldest Veterans Day Parade in the country.
Following World War II, Birmingham WWII veteran Raymond Meeks led a delegation to the Pentagon where they asked Army Chief of Staff Dwight D Eisenhower (R) to create a day honoring all of the nation’s veterans. In 1954, as President Eisenhower he signed legislation formally establishing November 11th as Veterans Day. Meeks led the first Veterans Day Parade in Birmingham in 1947 and led the parade every year until his death in 1985. Meeks was honored in 1982 by President Ronald Reagan (R).
Congressman Spencer Bachus (R) from Vestavia said, “Birmingham has a long and proud history of honoring our esteemed veterans and truly is a role model for communities throughout our nation. It is my hope that our resolution will bring national attention to our continuing need to pay gratitude to those who have given their service, and even given their lives, to preserve the freedoms that we all are privileged to have as Americans. Our Veterans Day celebration in Birmingham is a tradition that we must cherish and support.”
Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell (D) from Selma said, “Birmingham’s history of celebrating and honoring our nation’s brave service men and women is a tradition we are proud of.” “Birmingham’s steadfast recognition and celebration of our nation’s veterans serves as a compelling reminder of the role we all have in honoring those who defend and protect our democracy.”
Today’s parade will start on the corner of 8th Avenue and 19th Street at 1:30 pm. It will proceed South down 19th Street to 5th Avenue where it will run east until reaching 22nd Street. The parade will then go South on 22nd Street to 2nd Avenue North. The parade will then travel west on 2nd Avenue North to 18th Street. The parade will run North up 18th Street to 6th Avenue North.
On Sunday the veterans held the Raymond Meeks Memorial Service, the 100th Anniversary of World War 1, and the National Veterans Awards Dinner. The Tuskegee Airmen were honored at this year’s Awards Dinner.
Monday’s events will begin with the Veterans Memorial Service at 9:00 am in the Cathedral Church of the Advent. The memorial service recognizes and honors those Veterans who have passed away during he past year. The service is conducted by The Forty and Eight, an independent, by invitation, honor organization of male and female U. S. veterans. The organization was founded in 1920 by American veterans returning from France after World War I.
That will be followed by the World Peace Luncheon in the BJCC East Ballroom. The World Peace Luncheon featured speaker this year is Lt. Gen. Stanley E. Clark III, director of the Air National Guard for the Pentagon. General Clarke is a command pilot with more than 4,000 hours in A-10s, C-26s and F-16s. Previously, General Clarke served as the Commander, Continental U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Command Region – 1st Air Force (Air Forces Northern), Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. He has served as Senior Defense Official/Defense Attaché in Turkey and has commanded a squadron, fighter wing and air expeditionary wing. He was also as the Deputy Director of the Air National Guard and the Assistant Adjutant General for Air, Alabama Air National Guard.
The parade is scheduled to begin at 1:30 pm.