Veterans Day parade gives community opportunity to show appreciation

Published 12:02 am Friday, November 12, 2021

SALISBURY — The threat of looming storm clouds couldn’t rain on the Veterans Day parade downtown Thursday afternoon.

High school bands, Boy Scout troops, motorcyclists, local dignitaries and law enforcement officers made their way down Main Street as people cheered them on from chairs and tailgates. Some spectators raised homemade signs with messages of thanks, others waved American flags both large and small.

“Today was about veterans,” said Mark Beaver, president of the Rowan County Veterans Council. “It was a day to honor the veterans that served this country. As you can see by the folks that lined the streets, this is something they really enjoyed coming to. They like to give back to us.”

The parade is held annually, but was canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Watching the parade unfold from his truck bed was Thomas Clark, a veteran who served for 21 years in the Air Force. Clark, a lieutenant colonel, lives in Concord with his wife, Carolyn, but decided to make the trip to Salisbury to watch the procession for the first time.

“It’s good to have something to remind us that there are people who still want to display their appreciation for the work that people have done and the sacrifices many have made, some of them making the ultimate sacrifice and others just a sacrifice of time,” Clark said. “Military life is good, but it has its disadvantages too. Time away from home, time away from family and the risk everyday of being called into action somewhere in the world.”

Clark said he was stationed at bases from “border to border” across the United States and also spent a year in Saudi Arabia that was fraught with danger. He commemorates Veterans Day each year by watching the wreath laying ceremony that takes place at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery. 

Clark said the parade in Salisbury made this Veterans Day special, especially since there haven’t been many events in the past two years.

“This was a chance to see a parade and we haven’t had parades in two years,” Clark said.

Another first time parade spectator was Christi Lackey, who stood in anticipation on the sidewalk to watch her son, Jasiah Lackey, march through the street with his fellow Salisbury High School JROTC classmates.

“I’m so excited. I just want to cry … good tears,” Lackey said.

Before the procession went through downtown Salisbury, it wound through the grounds at the Salisbury VA. The public was not permitted to attend that portion of the parade due to COVID-19 protocols, but Beaver said it felt good to show appreciation to the veterans at the medical center.

Local Veterans Day festivities also included Eagle Scout Layton Barber donating a bronze braille American flag to the North Carolina State Veterans Home.

Although Beaver said he enjoyed every minute of the parade, his favorite moment came when the procession made its way through the intersection of Main Street and Innes. Seeing a Marine in his dress blues, Beaver stopped the car he was driving and got out to salute the serviceman.

Another special moment came, Beaver said, when he was handed a thick manila envelope from a stranger, stuffed full of thank you cards written and drawn by local school kids. Beaver plans on distributing the cards to local veterans.

“That’s what it’s all about,” Beaver said.

The parade finished at Kerr Street, just before the rain started to come down.

“We can have the rain now,” Clark said as he entered his vehicle to head home.

The goal in the future is to continue to grow the Veterans Day parade, Beaver said. He would like to see more local military organizations participate in the coming years.