Virtual celebration replaces annual Phoenix Veterans Day Parade

Nov 10, 2020, 3:00 PM
(Honoring America's Veterans Photo)...
(Honoring America's Veterans Photo)
(Honoring America's Veterans Photo)

PHOENIX – Instead of the annual Veterans Day Parade in Phoenix, a virtual celebration will be take place Wednesday to honor those who served.

The Phoenix Veterans Day Parade: USA, A Beacon of Liberty” will be livestreamed starting at 11 a.m. on the Honoring America’s Veterans Facebook and YouTube pages.

It also will be broadcast on Channel 3 starting at 10 a.m.

“The men and women who serve in our military face many unique challenges, and when they return they are a source of pride for us,” Brian Ishmael, president of Honoring America’s Veterans, said in a press release.

“We can never repay them for their service and sacrifice, so having an event like this shows the gratitude we have as a community for them.”

The parade has been held in Phoenix annually since 1997, but proceeding with the festivities during the COVID-19 pandemic would put veterans and guests at risk, Ishmael said when the change was announced in July.

This year’s program will feature interviews with the event’s seven Honor Our Heroes awardees (descriptions from Honoring America’s Veterans):

  • Bill Shackelford, World War II, U.S. Navy (Sun City): Shackelford enlisted in the U.S. Navy the day after Pearl Harbor.
  • Avery “Dan” Hampton, Korean War, U.S. Marine Corps (Mesa): Hampton became a member of the U.S. Marine Corps at age 17 in 1952.
  • Thomas Kirk, Vietnam War, U.S. Air Force (Anthem): Kirk was a fighter pilot who became a Prisoner of War. After his release, he continued serving on active duty until his retirement in 1978.
  • Jim Kelsey, Cold War, U.S. Army (Scottsdale): After his two tours in Vietnam, Kelsey went into military intelligence training at Fort Huachuca in Arizona.
  • Aaron Dudney, Somalia Conflict, U.S. Army (Litchfield Park): During his Army career as an Airborne Ranger, one of his most significant accomplishments was leading a communications team into Somalia to support Operation Restore Hope.
  • David Clukey, Operation Enduring Freedom, U.S. Army (Cave Creek). Clukey’s service to the country includes seven combat tours, with six deployments to Afghanistan.
  • John Lewandowski, Operation Iraqi Freedom, U.S. Marine Corps (Goodyear): Lewandowski spent his time in Operation Iraqi Freedom at Camp Ramadi, working as a data systems officer supporting the camp’s network infrastructure.

In addition, the four winners of a high school essay contest will read their entries:

  • Gowri Shankar Biju, ninth grade, Hamilton High School, Chandler.
  • Paula Hortig, 10th grade, Casteel High School, Queen Creek.
  • Xoshill Saldana, 11th grade, Betty H. Fairfax High School, Laveen.
  • Dianette Molina, 12th grade, Coronado High School, Scottsdale.

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Virtual celebration replaces annual Phoenix Veterans Day Parade