Veterans-only parade planned for Memorial Day

bbashioum@demo-mo.comMay 16, 2014 

The Cass County Historical Society is making a call for veterans from across the county to participate in a special parade on Memorial Day.

The “Tribute to Veterans” parade is a new tradition the organization’s Executive Director Don Peters is hoping to start within the county.

The idea for the parade came about when Peters found information tracing back to a Decoration Day celebration that was held during the late 1890s in Raymore. Decoration Day is the former name of Memorial Day in the United States.

During the 1890s, Raymore held an annual Decoration Day program to honor and decorate the graves of the war veterans of that time buried in the Raymore Cemetery.

“They recognized and dedicated all the graves for the Civil War veterans,” Peters said. “We’re going to repeat and replicate that program.”

Their program began at the historic Raymore Presbyterian Church, 200 S. Jefferson St., and traveled to what is now the old portion of the cemetery, where many veterans of the Civil War are buried.

Attendees were led in a prayer, sang patriotic songs, and heard a reading of Lincoln’s Address at Gettysburg.

Over time, the tradition has faded, but Peters is hoping to revive the annual event to honor veterans.

This year’s parade, scheduled for 10 a.m. Monday, May 26, will retrace the old Decoration Day route as they did in the 19th century, culminating with the recognition and identification of the Civil War veteran’s tombs.

A short ceremony will be conducted at the church to begin the program.

The parade route will then proceed east of from the church on Maple Street, turning south on Washington Street, then east on Elm Street, ending at the old portion of the Raymore Cemetery near Aspen Drive.

“We’re going to replicate that walk to the cemetery, and in the cemetery, we’re going to recognize all of the Civil War veterans that are buried there,” Peters said. “And when I say all, I mean both Union and Confederate.”

Peters said they’ve already identified 31 Union soldier graves, and nine graves of Confederate soldiers.

The CCHS is welcoming any and all veterans who wish to participate in the parade.

“We want to turn that re-dedication into a program to honor our current veterans - our veterans who are heroes,” Peters said. “We want to give them the due and recognition they deserve. We’re losing our WWII veterans daily, but the people who are still alive are very proud.”

The parade will only be limited to veteran participation, and it will be segmented by era of service, i.e. World War II, Korean War, Vietnam, Cold War, Desert Storm, etc.

“The parade is going to be 100 percent veterans,” Peters said.

Veterans who may be unable to walk the half-mile parade route or may require assistance, volunteers will be available to help push a wheelchair or provide transportation.

No registration is required, but all interested veterans should meet at the Raymore Presbyterian Church at 9:30 a.m. on the day of the parade.

“My vision is that as they walk down the street, the street is lined with people giving them a standing ovation for what they did, who they are, or what they mean to us,” Peters said.

Donations will also be accepted before and after the parade. Proceeds will be split equally between the Wounded Warriors Project and Honor Flight organizations.

For more information, individuals are encouraged to contact the Historical Society at 816-380-4396.

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