Jackson County

Ocean Springs veterans get their day after almost 90 years

Air Force Senior Airman James Wise blows taps during a ceremony at Pershing Square on the lawn of the Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center on Saturday the end point of Ocean Springs’ first Veterans Day parade since 1927.
Air Force Senior Airman James Wise blows taps during a ceremony at Pershing Square on the lawn of the Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center on Saturday the end point of Ocean Springs’ first Veterans Day parade since 1927. jclark@sunherald.com

It had been almost 90 years since the last veterans parade rolled through the streets downtown, but that changed Saturday as more than 60 floats made their way down Government Street.

People lined the parade route, and about 100 people filled the oak-covered lawn of the Mary C. to watch the Veterans Day parade. There were children playing in costumes as a Halloween carnival was winding down. The music coming from an ice cream truck in the parking lot of the Mary C. was soon overpowered by the patriotic sounds playing from some of the floats.

Members of local American Legion posts rode on floats, many of them throwing beads to the onlookers, as is the tradition with parades on the Coast.

Some of the parade’s participants converged on Pershing Square, a World War I memorial in front of the Mary C., where a wreath was placed in memory of fallen veterans.

One of the parade’s organizers, Richard Eckert, said the parade was a long time coming for the veterans of Ocean Springs.

“It’s our first year and the turnout was great and we hope to have it again next year,” he said. “We haven’t had a parade here since 1927.”

Fundraising to refurbish Pershing Square was overseen by American Legion Post 42 in Ocean Springs.

“We approached the city of Ocean Springs to establish Pershing Square and we sold bricks so that we could refurbish the monument, which hasn’t really been touched since 1927.”

The monument is a tribute to Ocean Springs native Emile Ladnier, who died on Nov. 7, 1918, in France during World War I.

The memorial refurbishment also received grant money from the 100 Cities Project, which is helping 200 U.S. cities restore war memorials.

Veterans Day is Nov. 11.

On Nov. 5, Diamondhead will host its second annual Veterans Day parade. A parade and concert are planned for downtown Long Beach on Nov. 6.

On Nov. 12, the 16th annual Gulf Coast Veterans parade will roll at 11 a.m. in downtown D’Iberville.

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