Mississippi’s largest Veterans Day celebration will take place in Hattiesburg on Nov. 11, and will be hosted by the Hattiesburg Veterans Committee, a coalition of local veterans organizations and the City of Hattiesburg.
According to a press release from the Hattiesburg Veterans Committee, festivities for the holiday will actually begin Nov. 10 at 11 a.m., when The University of Southern Mississippi’s Air Force ROTC program starts its 24-hour vigil at the Veterans Memorial Park.
The cadets will guard the four pillars containing the names of 173 men from the greater Hattiesburg area who have lost their lives in combat from World War I to today. At 7 p.m. on Nov. 10, the men and women of the Air Force ROTC will read the names from those granite pillars.
The next day, beginning at 10 a.m. at Hardy Street Baptist Church, the annual Veterans Day parade, sponsored by the Magnolia Chapter of the Armed Forces Top Enlisted Association, will begin.
According to the Hattiesburg American, the chapter had been looking for volunteers to partake in the parade for over a month.
Marion Walley, president of the Magnolia Chapter of AFTEA, discussed what she has planned for veterans in the parade.
“I’d like to have a lot of convertibles because I’d love to put World War II vets in them and ride them down the street,” Walley said. “We’d like anyone who wants to be in it to be in. Motorcycle groups, anybody with antique cars, older cars—we’d love to have them.”
Dozens of bands and units will proceed down Hardy Street past the Hattiesburg Veterans Park in one of the largest parades in Hattiesburg this year.
Ted Tibbett, Hattiesburg Veterans Committee chairman, will open the Veterans Day program at the park at 11 a.m. The program will include music from the Petal High School band, vocals from various music outlets and naming the Hattiesburg Veteran of the Year.
Darryl Brady, the senior executive director of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs Regional Office, is expected to make a Veterans Day speech at the program. Brady was appointed director of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs Regional Office in Jackson in 2013.
In the case of bad weather, the program will be in Jackie Dole Sherrill Community Center.
The event will also be attended by federal, state and local officials. The Mississippi Youth Challenge will participate along with hundreds of area youth from local schools.
According to a press release from the Hattiesburg Veterans Committee, thousands are expected to attend the event. The Veterans Day parade has become one of the biggest events in the city and state each year.
The public is invited to attend all the events including the reception afterwards at VFW Post 3036, across from the Veterans Park.