Saluting the military, Chattanooga style
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -- They've been doing it every year since President Truman set the day aside in 1949 -- the Armed Forces Day Parade in Chattanooga. The Scenic City has held the event uninterrupted ever since.
People of all ages gathered for music, fun, and to show their appreciation as the procession lead from Miller Plaza to the Aquarium. It's an event very dear to William Shelmon's heart. He was an air force medic in the 1950s and wouldn't have missed this 63rd parade for anything.
"It shows that people still appreciate the military and what they've done for the country and all," says Shelmon.
He's attended every parade in the Scenic City since 1959. Friday's celebration was a family affair for the Chattanooga native.
"Even got grandchildren and great grandchildren marching in the bands. ROTC," explains Shelmon.
Stacy Kehoe also attended. She's commanding officer of a group of students at Signal Mountain Middle-High School. They're marching as part of the Naval Sea Cadet Corps. The Corps gives them a small taste of the military even if it's not a future career.
"The goal of our program is to make our future generation into strong leaders and patriotic citizens," says Kehoe.
Some kids have expressed interest in joining the military, but Kehoe says the reasons for participating in the event are to serve the community and gain exposure.
"This is their time to see one of the many aspects of the program. What it's about. Just to get out there and make ourselves known," adds Kehoe.
Shelmon hopes the yearly parade continues for many more years, convincing young people, maybe even his grand- and great grandchildren, to consider military careers. He says he'd do it again if he had to.
"It's not a bad idea. It's not all bad, you know what I'm saying?" says Shelmon.
Armed Forces Day was consolidated to take the place of separate Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, and Navy Days.