November 08, 2014 – PAUL CZAPKOWIC
Pockets of spectators held U.S. flags Saturday morning as the inaugural Hammond Veterans Appreciation Day parade traveled down Hohman Avenue from Sibley Street to Veterans Plaza in Harrison Park.
Various veterans groups and the Hammond High School ROTC participated at Veterans Plaza, where Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott, Jr., Calumet City Mayor Michelle Markiewicz Qualkinbush and North Township Trustee Frank Mrvan addressed the crowd and thanked veterans.
Among the parade observers was Hammond resident Don Henderson, 88, a veteran of the Air Force.
“I think it’s very nice,” Henderson said. “I think they should have been doing it all along.”
McDermott said the parade will indeed be an annual event in the city in honor of Veterans Day (recognized annually on Nov. 11) and that it is one of just a small number of such parades in the area.
“Next year this will be even bigger than it is this year,” he said.
McDermott had proclaimed Saturday as Veterans Appreciation Day in Hammond.
“I ask all citizens to celebrate the contributions and sacrifices of these men and women who placed their lives in harm’s way, protecting American values and preserving democracy for the rest of the world,” he said.
Mark Brickman, of Lansing, got into the spirit of the parade by dressing as President Dwight D. Eisenhower as he stood at Hohman Avenue and Webb Street.
“We just had the election,” he said. “How many people died for giving us the right to vote?”
Glenda Jones, of Hammond, withstood the windy, cool conditions on Saturday to watch the parade from the intersection of Hohman Avenue and Carroll Street.
She said there are many veterans in her family and that her granddaughter recently enlisted.
“They have to go through more than we have to go through standing out here today,” Jones said.
Maryoline Sferruzza, of Hammond, stood and applauded as the veterans passed by her spot along the parade route.
“We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the veterans,” she said. “And we should show them support for all they’ve given and sacrificed so that we have freedom in this country.”
Among the marchers was the Region Police Pipes and Drums, which is comprised of Hammond police officers and a detective from St. John.
The group played “Amazing Grace” to conclude the ceremony in the park.