By Sean Wardwell
Killeen Daily Herald
Killeen residents turned out to celebrate Veterans Day Friday with a parade that covered a larger area than in previous years.
Killeen was one of only five cities in Texas this year to receive the honor of being designated a regional parade by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
“It’s quite an honor. This year, there were 36 cities accepted as regional sites by the veterans administration, and we’re just so fortunate for Killeen to be accepted,” said retired Command Sgt. Maj. Elijah King Jr., co-chair of the parade committee of the Area Veterans Council.
King presided over a brief ceremony before the parade during which he presented Killeen Mayor Timothy Hancock with a certificate from the Department of Veterans Affairs, formally designating Killeen as a regional parade.
“It’s going to be extremely difficult to express my true feeling for this honor that’s been brought to Killeen and the Central Texas area,” said Hancock, who is a retired command sergeant major. “We all know we all call (Killeen) a military town. But, I would say it is not only a military town. It’s also a veteran’s town.
“I am very proud of my service. I’m very proud of all the services the veterans have presented to this area, and continue to support this area, each and every day,” said Hancock. “I accept this on behalf of the veterans and the citizens of Killeen.”
King said this year’s parade had 137 participants, ranging from the 1st Cavalry Division’s Horse Detachment to local high school bands and Junior ROTC detachments. Killeen residents lined up early downtown to get a good seat.
“I think today is a great day,” said Army veteran David Robinson, who now works with Veterans Affairs. “For everything this parade represents, I think all the vets, past and present, would be very proud.”
“I feel very proud people are coming out to show support for the veterans. It’s a really nice feeling,” said Killeen resident Jeffery Mitchell, who also is a veteran.
This year’s parade grand marshal was III Corps Command Sgt. Maj. Arthur Coleman, who said a few words before the parade kicked off.
“It’s indeed an honor and a privilege to represent not only all of the soldiers and service members, but our families as well,” said Coleman. “We’re deeply honored to be here this morning. Since the early 1940s, Fort Hood has been an intimate part of this community. We’re very proud of it.”