Monday, November 11, 2013 was a day in Charleston that honored all veterans and the memory of those veterans who are deceased. In Charleston the honors included the first ever annual Veteran’s Day Parade, a program held at the new gazebo on the Courthouse yard, a chili supper provided by Dar’s Arts & Collectables and Smith Mortuary, followed by the second annual Veteran’s Day program in the chapel at the Belle Museum.
The activities of this day were the fulfillment of an idea and desire of the organizers, Jack Furr with The Bargain Center; Darla Verkamp, owner of Dar’s Arts & Collectibles; Jodie Crimm with Smith Mortuary; Charleston Express, and Delbert and Mary Belle Ervin, owners of the Belle Museum and Chapel, to pay special honor to our local veterans. The Parade Marshall was Retired Lt. Col Jerry B. Sharpe, who rode in a 1967 Corvette driven by Eddie Hahn, owner. Other participants included the CHS Marching Band under the direction of Eric Durham, Fort Smith and Charleston Motorcycle Clubs, several floats, the Johnson County Antique Car Club, plus several local antique cars, including a favorite, a 1931 Chevrolet owned by Buddy Hug, Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts, a barrel train which was a delight for all spectators, horses and riders, a mule drawn covered wagon, owned and driven by Greg Newhart, Franklin County Coroner, Shelby Floyd, Charleston EMS, Charleston and Branch Fire Departments’, Franklin County Sheriff’s department, Charleston Police Department, and Arkansas State Police.
The parade began at the Administration building and ended at the intersection of Main and South Hancock. It was directed by CPS Supt. Jeff Stubblefield and CHS Principal Shane Storey. Charleston students, holding small flags and accompanied by their teachers, lined Main Street from the Middle School to the Masonic Lodge Hall.
Cornerstone Freewill Baptist Church won first place with their float and their prize money will be used to support to a youth activity. A short program was held at the new gazebo on the Courthouse grounds, with Jodie Crimm serving as emcee and Tim Aldridge in charge of the sound system. Bro. Rundell Smith, Freewill Baptist pastor, from Booneville and a former POW during the Vietnam War, gave the invocation, followed by Melissa McFerran Burt, who gave a beautiful rendition of our national anthem - “The Star Spangled Banner,” a cappella. Levi White, a CHS graduate, and recently honorably discharged from his military service, led the group in the Pledge of Allegiance, following which, Bro. Smith delivered a short, but very interesting talk about the formation of our constitution and the utmost importance of keeping it in place as intended. He also touched on the sacrifices of our military and their families who have served down through the years to preserve our nation.
Darla Verkamp, owner of Dar’s Arts and Collectibles, and Smith’s Mortuary, served chili, tea, and cookies, and Western Arkansas Primary Care provided the apples, complimentary.
At five o’clock the second annual program of music to honor all living veterans, and in the memory of those who have died, began in the chapel of the Belle Museum. Performers throughout the evening were: Landon and Brenda Scoggins and son Mason; Monte and Cheryl Brotherton; Delbert Hicks; Will Schmitz and his fiddle; Tim Aldridge; Ed Storey, his daughter, Dana Crenshaw and his son-in-law Dr. Arthur Johnson; and James and Marcie Malicote.
At 6:30, a meal hosted by Delbert and Mary Belle Ervin was served for all in attendance. Thanks to Pat Hewitt for her help with the fruit platter, and to Ann Haney, Wanda Robertson and Peggy Hunter who helped serve. While people were eating several of the performers continued to entertain the guests. The generosity of these talented people always provide a great evening for all those in attendance. The day had begun with a program in the Doll Means Auditorium provided by Charleston Elementary students, under the direction of Mrs. Jeanne Wells, music teacher. A repeat performance was held at 7:00 pm for those parents, grandparents, etc., unable to attend the morning show.
At noon Kat’s Café treated all veterans to a free lunch, as they had also done the previous year. On behalf of the organizing committee, they would like to thank the CHS Band and director, Eric Durham, all who built a float, drove a car or motorcycle, rode a horse, drove a covered wagon, marched in the parade, drove a train, served as directors, and any and all others who helped to make the parade a success.
The committee would also like to thank the three ladies from Ozark, Charleston and Greenwood who served as judges for the floats. A big thank you to Jeff Stubblefield, Shane Storey, Missy Moore and Carl Underwood, teachers and staff for their co-operation in allowing the school to be participants as spectators at the parade, the Charleston Express for getting the word out about the event.
November 11, 2014 will be Veteran’s Day and planning has already begun for the Second Annual Charleston Veteran’s Day Parade. Mark your calendars for this day and begin making your plans to participate, either to build a float, march in the parade, etc, or to be a spectator. Remember, time flies!