MURRAY – While plenty of units have been reserved for Monday’s annual Veterans Day Parade in Murray, the opportunity for veterans or families of veterans to be part of the venture from the court square to Chestnut Park will be open up until the event starts.

Rachel Brown, who is organizing the parade for the Woodmen Life Insurance firm that is in its first year of overseeing it, said Thursday that no prior notification will be required for people wishing to either march or drive a vehicle. 

“We’ll find a place for them,” Brown said, adding that she has received several inquiries the past several days as to how to be part of the event. “As a matter of fact, just Monday, I was at a doctor’s office and I had a man who is a Navy veteran come up to me and say, ‘Hey, I’d like to be part of that but I can’t walk that far.’ I told him, ‘You can drive your vehicle if you want.’

“He said, ‘Really? I may do that.’ Look, we want as many of our veterans to be part of this as we can get and we’re trying to give them that opportunity. They can come to us that day. We’ll take care of them.”

The parade is scheduled to start at 4 p.m. with the starting point being the intersection of South Fifth and Maple streets on the southwest edge of the square. Setup will begin at about 3:15 and Brown said it would be the area of Fifth and Maple where anyone wishing to enter the parade at the last minute should report. 

From the square, the parade will move onto Main Street and head west before turning onto North 10th at Memorial Baptist Church. From there, units will travel 10th until reaching the end point at Chestnut Park. A ceremony will begin shortly after the final unit arrives at the park’s Calloway County Veterans Memorial. 

Brown said one of the lead units of the parade will be a group of local Boy Scouts, whose role will be to distribute small American flags to spectators. That is designed to create a patriotic scene through which the remaining units will travel. Those remaining units will include emergency personnel from both Murray and Calloway County, the Red Hand Motorcycle Club, both the Calloway County and Murray high school marching bands and numerous veterans groups. 

Brown said that once the parade reaches the Veterans Memorial, the ceremony will include speaking from Calloway County Judge-Executive Kenny Imes, City of Murray Mayor Bob Rogers and the afternoon’s keynote speaker, Ken Wells, a retired veteran of the United States Navy. Retired Air Force veteran Kelyn Brown, who has handled this role the past three years, will once again handle that duty Monday. A 21-rifle salute, the playing of “Taps” and the ringing of a bell in honor of fallen veterans from Calloway County will also be included in that ceremony.

“Also, if there is anybody from the audience who feels the need to say something at that ceremony, we’ll open up that opportunity,” Rachel said, recalling when one audience member took advantage of that offer a few years back. “It was a young woman whose brother had served in Afghanistan but didn’t make it back home and she just had everyone in tears. It made me cry.

“But you know what? People need that sometimes; they need to express how they feel and any time we can do something that lets them do that, we’re going to do it.”

Current forecasts are calling for a chance of rain on Monday. Rachel said that in the event of rain, the parade mostly likely would be canceled, but the ceremony would be moved to the WoodmenLife building on CC Lowry Drive, just off North Fourth Street. 

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Earlier in the day, veterans will be honored at BIlly Lane Lauffer American Legion Post 73, which will keep a staunch tradition intact with its annual ceremony at the post off North Fourth Street on Bee Creek Drive. The event starts at 11 a.m.

“This time is established based upon it being the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month which is when the Armistice to end World War I went into effect,” said Post 73 Co-Service Officer Bill Cowan, a retired Army colonel. 

Doors will open at 10:30 with the ceremony starting at “11 a.m. sharp,” Cowan said. 

“Our activities will last until about 1:30 p.m. and will include a rifle salute, a couple of brief remarks and a cake cutting ceremony,” Cowan said. He added the ceremony would culminate in the naming of the Veteran of the Year and refreshments will be available. 

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