Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center
Charleston VA honors Veterans with parade
Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg and Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center Chief of Staff Dr. Florence Hutchison welcomed and thanked those who came out to support Lowcountry Veterans at the Veterans Day Parade in downtown Charleston. As the Laing Middle School choir sang the last notes of the Star-Spangled Banner, a C-17 from Joint Base Charleston flew over the crowd who had gathered to honor Charleston’s Veterans and Servicemembers.
“Every month, not just during November, we are dedicated to serving the needs of more than 75,000 Veterans living along the coast of South Carolina and Georgia,” said Hutchison. “It's our job, yes. But it is much more than that—it is a privilege and an honor to remember Veterans’ sacrifices, and to always strive to serve them as well as they served us.”
Engines then roared to life as several motor cycle clubs, including Lowcountry Star, Green Knights and Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association, to name a few, served as flag bearers for Old Glory, service flags, state flags and more.
The Veterans Day Parade had two co-Grand Marshals this year. Both former POWs, Jack Lillich and Irving Bellow served during World War II and were both taken captive during their service. Bellow waved to the crowd from a classy Model A Ford, while Lillich trailed in a Lexus convertible.
Joint Base Charleston participated in several aspects of the parade, but the Explosive Ordinance Disposal unit displaying their state-of-the-art track propelled robots to help identify or detonate possible explosives with minimum casualties.
The parade also featured many Veteran service organizations such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Marine Corps League and the American Legion, just to name a few.
More than 60 groups participated in this year’s Veterans Day Parade. Charleston Fisher House Manager Vicki Johnson not only helped organize the parade, but also rode in the convoy of floats and varied vehicles. Johnson, the Commander of the Women Veterans of America Lowcountry Chapter, finds outreach to female Veterans rewarding. And with noble cause too—female Veterans are the fastest growing Veteran demographic.
Thousands of Charlestonians came out to support their Veterans and enjoy the festivities. Charleston VAMC and the community have a wonderful partnership that helps make every day Veterans Day for our nation’s heroes who reside along the South Carolina and Georgia coast.
Check out The Post and Courier's gallery of Veterans Day parade photos on their website.