By Ryan Richardson
Globe Staff Writer
JOPLIN, Mo. —
High winds didn’t keep area residents away from downtown Joplin Saturday morning for the annual Veterans Day parade.
American Legion Post 13 and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 534 organized the 25th annual parade to honor soldiers who have served in all branches of the military.
Legion Post Commander Howard Spiva said that parade organizers wanted to honor the rebuilding of Joplin in the wake of the May 22, 2011, tornado, and to recognize the role veterans played working alongside residents to help the city recover.
“We wanted to thank the special veterans locally and throughout the country who helped us when we needed it the most,” Spiva said. “We had an outpouring of help, especially from other Legion posts. We honor that in addition to our servicemen from past wars and who are serving now.”
That outpouring of help was exemplified by American Legion Post 1080 from Mahopac, N.Y. Members of the post traveled to Joplin in the aftermath of the tornado to help with rebuilding. Post Commander Joe Toleno, along with several other members of Post 1080, traveled to Joplin this past week to take part in the Veterans Day festivities, including marching during the parade.
“We came back because we wanted to see how progress was coming along,” Toleno said. “We saw the happy faces today while we marched, and that’s a lot of pride that you can’t describe. Coming here for the weekend to see this area again and to see it strong and to see the people happy, that’s the way we say thanks, by marching here.”
Younger members of the community also participated in the parade, including Boy Scout Troop 10 of Joplin and Troop 70 of Carl Junction and Girl Scout Troop 710. Some of the Boy Scouts handed out small flags to those watching the parade. Scout Leader Tony Dameron said that this is the kind of event the Scouts look forward to.
“The Exchange Club invited us out here today and we are thankful to participate, and they take pride in learning what today is about,” Dameron said.
Matthew Goodan, 14, of Troop 10, said he was filled with pride to see people waving the flags that they handed out.
“We put hundreds of flags into people’s hands today,” Goodan said. “Seeing people waving them and putting them out means a lot to us. I love seeing this support of freedom.”
The parade featured marching bands from Joplin and Webb City high schools and from Joplin middle schools. After the parade concluded, the Joplin High School band held a concert at Memorial Hall that was open to the public.