Veterans burial detail

Members of the Veterans Burial Detail ride in the 2017 Veterans Day parade in downtown Athens. The all-volunteer group provides full military honors at the funeral of local veterans.

Citizens from communities across Limestone County and beyond are encouraged to line the streets of downtown Athens Saturday to honor our nation's veterans during the annual Veterans Day parade.

The parade will begin at 11 a.m. at Athens Middle School (the old Athens High School) and follow the Christmas parade route. From the middle school, parade entrants will cross U.S. 31 to travel along Hobbs Street to Jefferson Street, then around The Square and back to Jefferson Street, ending at Hometown Grocery.

Floats and riders will line up at 10:15 a.m. behind the middle school.

The parade, overseen by the Alabama Veterans Museum and Archives and other local veterans organizations, will include floats, bands and more. The 2019 premier sponsor is AARP.

Sandra Thompson, director of the museum and archives, said Wednesday there are already more than 50 entrants, with multiple vehicles per entry. With multiple floats, Thompson said, any veterans who want to be part of the parade can arrive early and organizers will find them a spot on a float.

This year, the grand marshal float will honor Limestone County's World War II veterans. So far, five such veterans plan to ride on the float. Organizers decided to forgo finding a traditional grand marshal this year in favor of a grand marshal float. Along with the many floats, the Athens and West Limestone high school bands will be part of the festivities.

The weather is supposed to be cooperatively cool. The National Weather Service in Huntsville has forecast Saturday's high temperature to be in the lower 50s, with lows in the mid-30s.

“Come out and support the veterans,” Thompson said. “Let's let them know we are honoring them and thanking them for their service and sacrifices.” She said that is especially important for Vietnam War veterans, who didn't get welcomed home very well.

Area veterans are thankful for those who show their support.

“It says a lot about the community and how they support our veterans,” she said.

Previous parades

In recent years, Roxanne Reynolds, whose father is a veteran, managed the parade. However, Reynolds married and moved out of Limestone County leaving her unable to continuing organizing it.

After taking a break from the event, the veterans museum resumed management alongside veterans organizations such as the Vietnam Veterans of America, AMVETS, Disabled American Veterans, American Legion and the Limestone Burial Detail.

“We want to make this the biggest and best yet,” Thompson previously told The News Courier. “(It’s about) showing the veterans you appreciate what sacrifices they made for you.”

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