Parade committee continues hallowed tradition

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 14, 2005

They do it for love.

Ask any member of the Ironton-Lawrence County Memorial Day Parade Committee why they volunteer and without hesitation, their answer includes the word love: Love of country, love of community, love for the flag, love for a tradition that has continued for more than 130 years.

"You have to believe in something before you can serve with it, said committee member Jim Adkins. "I feel it's important to pay my respects to all who have served, especially those who have served in Vietnam and Korea."

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Some 25 active members meet regularly for months in advance to make sure Memorial Day, the largest single-day event in the county's history, is what it ought to be. The list of responsibilities is long and varied: entries must be added to the lineup, the parade route readied for the big event, the annual Navy Night and Woodland Cemetery service planned and executed, graves of soldiers decorated, the list goes on and on.

Harold Spears is one of the couple dozen committee members and has served since the 1960s, serving longer than anyone else.

"I was grand marshal in 1968, I believe. That was the 100th year of the parade, and I believe I was a member for a year or two before that," Spears said.

"I have a continuing interest in patterns of patriotism. I am a World War II veteran myself and I want to see this parade continue. It has a very significant, exalted record, being the longest running, continuous Memorial Day parade."

He said he encourages others in the community to become involved in something that has meant so much during the years to so many.

"People have a tendency to assume those involved will continue to do things and as time progresses we need new fresh faces to come in and become acquainted with the things required to put the parade on," Spears said. "…The public can attend the parade committee meeting and, if they become a member, they can work toward making sure the parade continues."

The parade committee meets monthly, the second Monday of each month from January to April. After that meetings are bi-weekly until May. Meetings are at 7 p.m. at the

VFW Post 8850 in Ironton.