HUNTINGTON — More than 45 groups and individuals — including Toys for Tots, the American Legion, Charles Wilson VA Outpatient Clinic and even a trailer of Vietnam veterans — participated Saturday in the annual Veterans Day Parade.

Starting at Huntington Middle School and continuing on through Main Street, the parade was attended by children and adults there to honor our veterans and enjoy the day.

Kristopher Massey, who specified that he is exactly 7 1/2 years old, comes every year with his mom. This year, his favorite part was “the firetrucks and the Camaros.”

Following the parade, there was a Missing Man ceremony at Huntington’s Centennial Park that honored all of the men and women who went missing in action or were prisoners of war. Attendees said the Pledge of Allegiance, stood for the national anthem and said a prayer before remembering the missing veterans with a speech about the symbolic table set up to represent them.

Billy Banks, his wife Patricia Banks and their son Cade Banks attended the ceremony. Patricia and Billy both served in the Army during the Vietnam War, which is where they met. Cade followed in their footsteps and served all around the world until he retired from the service in 2014.

Patricia Banks talked about the importance that Veterans Day holds for her.

“It means more to me now than it ever did,” she said. “The problems that we’re having in America ... the Democrats and Republicans fighting back and forth all the time, we should be fighting together.”

Veteran’s Day Parade organizer and founder Marilyn Davis’ husband and father are both veterans.

“I started this for my dad. He passed away last April,” she said. “He loved the parade. He lived for November to have that parade. Usually he pulled a trailer in it and put veterans on it.”

Once he became unable to do that any longer, Davis’ father still stood on the sidelines each year to enjoy the event.

Davis said the parade used to occur in Lufkin, but moved to Huntington a few years back.

“It just keeps growing every year,” she said. “It’s probably been fifteen to eighteen years that we’ve been doing this. It’s just awesome.”

Angelina County Judge Don Lymbery was the keynote speaker at the ceremony. During his speech, Lymbery explained what exactly makes a veteran so special.

“A veteran is the first person to step up and say ‘Sure, I’ll be glad to help do this.’ A veteran is a veteran because they serve. And veterans everywhere continue to serve.”

Dena Stokes’ email address is dena.stokes@lufkindailynews.com.

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