November 11 marks the observance of Veterans Day. Originally known as “Armistice Day,” the national holiday as it is known today was first celebrated in 1954 as a day to honor American veterans of all wars. Since that time, conflicts continue to rage throughout the world. Yet, we as Americans remain secure here at home. For that, we can thank those who have served in our country’s military. With countless veterans living in Owensboro and the surrounding areas, we have great cause to celebrate those individuals. In recognition of Veterans Day 2014, several local groups have come together to ensure Veterans Day Weekend in Owensboro will be truly amazing. This year, the festivities are comprised of three special events for the community, including a 5K race, a parade, and a celebration service honoring veterans for their service and sacrifice.
The first event is a 5K race called “Kentucky Remembers Veterans Day 5K Run/Walk.” The race was organized to honor and remember the sacrifices of thousands of American soldiers who have paid the ultimate price for our freedom. Since 9/11, Kentucky alone has lost 113 heroes, seven from Daviess County, including five soldiers who were killed in combat: SGT James Harlan; PFC Robert Settle; SPC Timothy Fulkerson; SPC Brandon Scott Mullins; and SGT Michael Cable.
The inaugural race will be held on Saturday, November 8 at 8 a.m., and will begin at McConnell Plaza at Smothers Park, with the route taking participants to the Sports Center War Memorials.
Participants are encouraged to carry one of the specially-marked flags in memory of a fallen hero. The race is presented by the Kentucky Chapter of the American Gold Star Mothers. Cathy Mullins, mother of SPC Brandon Scott Mullins (KIA 8-25-11), serves as the president of the local chapter of this non-profit organization. Proceeds from the race will be divided between two organizations: the Bluegrass Chapter of the Honor Flights, which provides all-expenses-paid trips for WWII veterans to go to Washington, D.C. to visit the national memorials, and the Honor and Remember organization, who provide personalized flags to families of the fallen. Sheriff Keith Cain is the local ambassador for the Honor Flights, and Tommy Mullins, father of SPC Brandon Mullins, is the director of the Kentucky Chapter for Honor and Remember.
Several corporate sponsors have partnered with the American Gold Star Mothers to make the event happen, including Independence Bank, Owensboro Health, Legends, Drew Watson CFP, Glenn Family Services and Chick-Fil-A. The organization hopes to partner on another level with at least 113 additional private donors or businesses, representing each of Kentucky’s fallen heroes since 9/11.
The year Brandon Mullins was killed, several area runners adopted the name “Team Brandon” in his memory. Several other fallen soldiers will have teams running in this race, including the family of SGT Michael Cable, who was a track star at Daviess County High School.
The second event planned for the weekend is the Veterans Day parade, a local tradition that is actually the longest successive-running Veterans Day parade in the nation. This year’s parade will take place on November 8 at 2 p.m. The parade will begin at East 2nd and Clay Streets, will travel west on 2nd Street, north on Daviess Street, and west on Veterans Memorial Blvd., ending at Frederica Street. Terry Stinson, Chair of the Daviess County Veterans Organization, is the contact person for more information about the parade. Stinson can be reached by phone at (270) 925-564, or via email at [email protected].
The third event is the Kentucky Hometown Veterans Day Celebration to be held on Sunday, November 9 at 3 p.m. at Good Shepherd Church. This will be the third year for the event hosted by the Mullins family. The family started this event in 2012 as a thank-you to the community for the outpouring of support after the death of their son, SPC Brandon Scott Mullins, who was killed in combat 8-25-11 in Afghanistan. The event was so well received that the family decided to make this an annual event. Local artists, musicians, dancers, speakers, and local/state/national leaders have shared on the program in previous years. This year’s event will feature video vignettes from the DCPL Veterans Project, the Kentucky Youth Chorale, the Kentucky Pro Bass Warrior Foundation, the Medal of Honor Tribute Project by retired SGT 1st Class, Richard Powers, and a very special presentation by the Honor and Remember organization to the families of four Daviess County fallen soldiers. The son of one of these fallen heroes, SGT James Harlan, who was killed ten years ago in Iraq, will also be sharing on the program. Several other special guests will also be on the program.
With so many activities planned, Veterans Day 2014 promises to mark a memorable weekend in Owensboro, as well as a wonderful time to honor the service and sacrifice of our veterans.