Veterans Day Weekend
View the Eureka Springs Veterans Day Parade information on the facebook event calendar:
Veterans Day Weekend is packed with observance events, Nov. 9-11
Honoring those who served
In Eureka Springs, we certainly know how to honor veterans. Scheduled for Nov. 9-11, Veterans Day Weekend is full of events acknowledging the sacrifice so many have made for our country. The big event is the annual Veterans Day Parade, rolling through downtown Eureka Springs on Saturday, Nov. 10.
The parade starts at 10 a.m., followed by a rifle salute by American Legion Post 9 at 11:11 a.m. Our parade honors all veterans, including retired, active duty and reserve personnel. Any veteran who has served is welcome to be in the parade, and they are all the Grand Marshals. Right behind the walking veterans, you’ll see a special section for the family and friends of veterans who can’t attend the parade.
We also honor our canine veterans, with the Krewe of Barkus walking with deployed military dogs. This year, Carroll County Judge Sam Barr, who was a canine handler in Korea, will be joining the krewe.
Mike Warkentin, first vice-commander of American Legion Post 9, said he appreciates the way Eureka Springs marks Veterans Day.
“I’ve had people come up to me and say that was the best Veterans Day observation they’d ever seen, and that’s saying a lot,” Warkentin said. “The time and dedication everyone gives to put that together is awesome.”
Commander Mark Pepple agreed, saying the parade is all about those who served.
“I appreciate how Eureka Springs makes it about veterans. They don’t allow a whole lot of extra things in there,” Pepple said. “There are other events, but they’re mainly directed toward veterans.”
An important part of the parade is diversity. Since its inception, the parade has honored female veterans, code talkers and LGBT veterans. The reason that’s so important, Pepple said, is because everyone who served should be recognized.
Waiting for the Veterans Parade and wearing medals for distinguished service and good conduct, Air Force veteran Sgt. John Butler says, “All Eurekans should show up on this day”.
Army Veteran and a member of the Honor Guard for American Legion Post 36 in H.I.
Vietnam Veteran (1970-1971) Bob LeRay honors his fallen comrades.
Standing proudly between the American flag and the POW/MIA Chair of Honor, Sharon Parker performs the National Anthem.
“We embrace the diversity. We’re taught from an early time in the military to say, ‘We see green. We don’t see black or white or Asian or female,’ ” Pepple said. “It speaks well to the community to allow everyone a voice and platform to participate.”
Warkentin recalled hearing a story a few years ago about an American Legion post celebrating a gay pride event.
“The state commander, when he was interviewed by the newspaper, said, ‘A veteran is a veteran,’ ” Warkentin said. “We’re all dedicated, no matter what.”
Warkentin remembered serving in the Navy from Nov. 21,1968, to April 1, 1976.
“Those dates are embedded in my brain,” Warkentin said.
He served as an interior communications electrician, working on the shipboard communication systems.
“That’s what my Vietnam experience was,” Warkentin said. “We did plane guard for aircraft carriers. We also did shore bombardment.”
Warkentin said he signed up to serve when he realized he’d be required by the draft to do so. He was called to serve, Warkentin said, so he did.
“There is a misconception particularly about the Vietnam era that we wanted to go over there and we wanted to kill people,” Warkentin said. “Back then, you got drafted. I took the oath to protect the country. I needed to do this. I needed to be there.”
Following the Veterans Parade, The Cathouse/Pied Piper hosts events including a Ceremony and Rifle Salute, Meet and Greet, and a free meal for veterans and their families and friends, donated by multiple restaurants across town.
Commander of American Legion Post 36 Mark Pepple spends some quality time with his granddaughter Gracie Rose.
Eureka Springs is proud of its veterans and active duty military.
Parade organizer Mrs. Sue Moore-Glave honors her husband on Veterans Day.
When he returned home, Warkentin said, people weren’t exactly supportive. Pepple, who served in the Army from 1991 to 2005, said he’s astounded at what Vietnam veterans experienced when they came back to the states.
“I came back from Iraq an absolute hero, and I did nothing more or less than what my soldiers did in Vietnam,” Pepple said. “Yet, they came back in an era where they weren’t accepted for what they were and are … heroes.”
Pepple continued, “They were heroes who went where their government said they needed to go. They went through some very horrific things. Even now, some of them can’t talk about it. They were heroes because they followed orders and went where Uncle Sam told them to go with no question.”
That’s why he’s so touched during the Veterans Day Parade, Warkentin said. He said he never had civilians thank him for his service until the past few years.
“It’s kind of uncomfortable at first, because I don’t know how to react. I didn’t really hear that before,” Warkentin said. “But it’s a good feeling. It does make you feel appreciated.”