Photo: One of the marching units coming down Commerce Street toward the Courthouse Square at a past Hernando Veterans Parade. (Bob Bakken/desotocountynews.com)
Look for Hernando to show off its support of veterans once again when its annual Hernando Veterans Parade takes place on Friday, Nov. 10, at 10 a.m. The parade and the luncheon that follows is among the highlights of the week surrounding Veterans Day in DeSoto County.
Since 2017, as many as 200 veterans have either participated in the parade, attended the luncheon that follows at the National Guard Armory, or have been a part of both.
There was no parade or luncheon that took place in 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a parade only was held the following year in 2021.
Saluting the veterans will be as many as 600 students along the parade route waving American flags and showing their patriotism. Several marching units and groups will also be involved.
Keith Hawkins is part of the 10-15-member committee that organizes the parade and luncheon each year. Hawkins credits Carolyn Young with pursuing the idea of an event to honor veterans in Hernando.
“Carolyn Young said Hernando was not doing anything for the veterans,” Hawkins said. “Other cities in DeSoto County had luncheons, breakfasts, but with Hernando being the county seat and having one of the best parade routes in DeSoto County, she thought somebody needed to be doing something for the veterans.”
A committee was put together and the parade and luncheon became a reality.
The parade route will be similar to other parades held in Hernando each year, primarily along Commerce Street toward and around the historic Courthouse Square.
“It starts at Mount Pleasant and Commerce on the west side of the railroad track,” Hawkins said. “Then it will go all the way to the square, around the square and then past Trustmark Bank. It’s the normal Christmas parade route.”
This year’s parade grand marshal will be K.T Robbins, who turned 102 years old on July 4. Robbins is a World War II veteran who lives in Olive Branch. On enlisting when he turned 18, Robbins was quickly elevated to sergeant, served with Patton’s Third Army and was part of the D-Day operations.
As much as the parade will attract thousands of people to come and watch as it marches by, the luncheon that follows at the National Guard Armory will be even more significant, Hawkins said.
“The DeSoto County boys’ choir, middle schoolers through high schoolers, will sing the National Anthem,” Hawkins said. “They will later sing the introduction song for each branch of the armed services and as they sing that, the people who were part of that branch stand up, so we recognize each branch of the service.”
Members of the boys’ choir also serve the food to each veteran as part of the luncheon.
Hawkins, himself a veteran of the Desert Storm conflict in the Middle East, believes people are showing more patriotism.
“They realize that the reason you enjoy what you do is because veterans did what they did,” Hawkins said. “People realize that they have freedom because veterans sacrificed to have our freedom.”
Funding for the parade comes from donations, individually, from businesses, and from foundational sponsors.
The committee is also in charge of an annual Christmas luncheon at the Armory for National Guard families, and you may be noticing their “Our Heroes” banners around Hernando, recognizing servicemembers from the city.
For more information about the parade and luncheon, call 901-634-1548, email email@example.com, or visit www.hernandoveteransparade.com. You may also search for “Hernando Veterans Parade” on Facebook. Donations are accepted as are volunteers desiring to help the work of the committee.