‘They’ll hear us in Washington’

Pulling away military assets for parade political act
May. 14, 2013 @ 10:17 AM

While the government’s sequestration of military assets for the North Carolina Memorial Day Parade has caused some frustration, a sense of purpose has allowed the committee to revamp the day’s festivities.
Members of the Memorial Day Committee — responsible for orchestrating the largest parade of its kind in the state — met Saturday at the Thomasville Fire Department.
Joe Leonard, chief executive officer of the committee, and Joel Pierce, chief of staff and a member of Thomasville City Council, addressed a group of nearly 30 people at the station.
"It has been tougher to get military assets," Pierce said. "To work around that, we've tried to get civilian assets. There are civilians, retired military personnel who have served our country and just don't wear the uniform now. They are excited about coming to Thomasville for (the parade)."
Held in honor of all veterans — both living and deceased — the parade usually features a patriotic band, military vehicles, equipment and a parachute jump team. This year, a different jump team consisting of  civilians as opposed to active military personnel will perform.
Leonard said the band and equipment, however, were cited under the terms of a sequester from the federal government and will be unavailable for the downtown festivities.
"For a high-ranking military officer to have to go get permission to come to the event, there is something wrong with that picture," Leonard said. "For the United States Army band to be committed to us in writing and then that was pulled back, and we can't get an answer as to why other than that it came from a 'higher authority,' I'd like for that higher authority to identify themselves, stand up and take responsibility for their actions."
Leonard said the city was denied access of a C-130 aircraft, a miniature C-117, helicopter and camouflage net. The Committee hopes the community rallies behind the event and makes a statement regarding the Chair City's spirit of patriotism.
"This thing called a sequester is, in my opinion, political in nature," Leonard said. "Of course, the American public is having to pay the price for this. This event in Thomasville honors those who gave their lives for American freedom. If we've got people who want to voice their objection to the way our government is operating, controlling and withdrawing these things from us, then attend the event. If we've got 100,000 people in Thomasville, they'll hear us in Washington."

Staff Writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 888-3575, or kennedy@tvilletimes.com.