CHARLESTON, W.Va. --The South Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau will host its annual Thomas Memorial Hospital Armed Forces Day Parade this weekend, in addition to welcoming new events this summer such as the display of the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall.The 53rd annual parade will take place Saturday at noon on D Street behind the Mound and will feature more than 100 military units led by United States Air Force Col. William T. Bare, a South Charleston High School graduate who currently serves as the director of legislative affairs for the U.S. Cyber Command at Fort George Meade in Maryland."This is the only armed forces parade in the state of West Virginia, and we're quite proud of having it 53 years straight," said Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Bob Anderson. "During the Vietnam War, they wanted me to cancel the parade but I didn't do it. Fights broke out -- people around the country were canceling their parades, but we didn't, and we're quite proud of that."The 100-yard Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall will be on display at Oakes Field in South Charleston May 25 through May 28 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and will allow residents to show their patriotism by remembering the 58,219 service men and women whose names are carved into it.
More than 700 of the names found on the wall are West Virginia residents who were killed or listed as missing in action during the Vietnam War, Anderson said."We've been a large military town for a long time. During WWI, we made parts for planes, during WWII, we made parts for ships, and during Vietnam, we made personnel carriers. We're proud to honor our military and all of the people who have served in the past and have returned from Afghanistan," Anderson said. "Having the wall here in our area is very special to us, and we hope to attract people not only from all over the state, but from all over the country."Those interested in volunteering to assist with the "rubbings" of the wall should contact the Visitors Bureau at 304-746-5552.The bureau also will host a city-wide yard sale and business sidewalk sale on June 9 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Oakes Field where nonprofit organizations can set up free of charge to give back to the community, Anderson said.To reserve a space at the yard sale, contact 304-746-552. Reach Mackenzie Mays at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-5100.