“Always There, Always Ready.”
The motto for the National Guard serves as the theme for this year's Veterans Day parade and remembrance ceremony. This year's parade and ceremony, which is set for 1:30 p.m. Sunday, will look to honor current and former National Guard soldiers.
The Norman Veterans Committee selects a branch or group of the U.S. Military to honor at every annual parade. Roger Gallagher, U.S. Army veteran and event committee chairperson, said the committee and the community are excited to honor the National Guard.
“The National Guard is an important facet of the military,” he said. “They have always been there for this country and we want to honor them.”
Attendees of this year's ceremony can expect a similar event from previous years. The parade will kick off at the OU Stephenson Research Center on Jenkins Avenue and will stop at the Cleveland County Veterans Memorial at Reaves Park.
Gallagher expects 60-65 groups to participate in the parade route, which stretches about a mile long. The Norman North and Norman High School bands will play together in the parade and will be accompanied by the Washington High School band.
One of the groups participating in the parade is the Canadian River Cruisers, a local car enthusiast group. The group has participated in every Veterans Day parade in Norman, and this year will have 30 cars in the parade.
David Saunders, founder of the group, said Veterans Day is special for the group. The group has 70 members who are veterans and many of them participate in the parade and festivities.
“It's a really neat event for the city of Norman,” Saunders said. “It's a nice event for people and families in the community to come out and just appreciate the veterans who have fought for this country.”
Once the parade ends at Reaves Park, the ceremony will commence. Attendees will say the Pledge of Allegiance and sing the National Anthem. At the end of the singing, two helicopters will fly over the ceremony.
Attendees will then hear from retired Maj. Gen. Brad Gambill of the Army National Guard who will serve as master of ceremonies. The Norman Veterans Committee also invited Brig. Gen. Thomas Mancino to be the main speaker at the ceremony. Tommy Mancino is a brigadier general with nearly 30 years of service in the Oklahoma Army National Guard. Mancino will discuss a brief history of the National Guard and its service to Oklahoma and the country.
During the ceremony, the NVC will also honor veterans from previous wars, people who are currently serving, and veterans who have died in the line of duty. There will also be static displays of military vehicles, two helicopters and classic cars provided by the Canadian River Cruisers.
At the end of the ceremony, there will be a 21-gun salute.
Norman Mayor Breea Clark said she is thankful for the veterans in Norman and the opportunity to honor them.
“We deeply value our veterans, the members who are currently serving, their families and the sacrifices they have all made for this country,” she said. “The least we can do is take some time to honor their service to our state and to our country.”
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