Spectators brave cold to attend Veterans Day parade
Dodging occasional snowflakes and bracing against wind gusts and 22-degree temperatures, some of Fort Wayne’s hearty patriots turned out Saturday morning to pay tribute to members of America’s military during the city’s annual Veterans Day parade.
Led by about 80 motorcycle-riding veterans, police, fire- and military-based units marched or drove vehicles along Parnell Avenue from East State Boulevard throwing out candy to spectators and being thanked for their service.
At Memorial Coliseum, about 80 people gathered for a ceremony renamed to honor the centennial of Armistice Day -- the day the treaty that ended World War I was signed 100 years ago today.
“They talk about this being the 100th anniversary of the end of the war to end all wars. Well, we all know how that turned out,” said Eddie Placencia, an Army vet who served with the 173rd Army Airborne in Vietnam.
“What we’ve learned is that there will always be wars,” he said. “But I can’t think of a better place to grow up and to be than this country.”
Leading the ceremony, Alan Schuette, 1st vice commander of the Allen County Council of Veterans, said Fort Wayne lost 132 residents who died during military service in World War I or afterward from war-related conditions.
While it’s unlikely that anyone alive knew them, their memories are honored in the names of streets and institutions, including veterans’ organizations’ posts, he said.
“May they rest in peace,” Schuette said.
A highlight of the ceremony was provided by Austin Whaley of Fort Wayne. Dressed in an authentic World War I “Doughboy” uniform that belonged to his best friend’s great-grandfather, Whaley recited “Flanders Field,” a poem commemorating World War I’s dead.
Whaley, a Ball State University student, said he is not in military service. But the graduate of Concordia Lutheran High School’s ROTC program said he plans a career in social work assisting veterans.
A ROTC contingent from Concordia was among the largest to march up Parnell, where Fort Wayne Air Force and Air National Guard veteran Dennis Przybyla, 76, watched the parade at Curdes Avenue with his son Kenneth, 47.
“I respect and honor them because these are the people whose service and patriotism helps to keep our country safe and secure for the generations to come,” the elder Przybyla said, adding he attends the parade every year.
“Veterans are there 365,” he said. “They don’t take time off because it’s windy or cold.”