By Erica Thomas, Managing Editor

Cities across the state of Alabama are planning celebrations for Veterans Day 2021, including Birmingham, which puts on the nation's oldest Veterans Day parade.

Veterans Day is a federal holiday that has been officially observed on Nov. 11 since 1954. The commemoration, originally known as "Armistice Day," was first observed in 1919 in honor of World War I veterans but was later changed to honor veterans of all wars.

This year, cities in Alabama will pause to observe Veterans Day on Thursday, Nov. 11.

In Mobile, the Veterans Day Celebration and Parade of Flags will be at the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park, from 3 p.m. until 4 p.m. The event is free of charge and will be presented by retired Major General Janet Cobb, the park's executive director. Elementary students from Mobile and Baldwin Counties will conduct the parade of flags.

In Huntsville, there will be a Veterans Day parade starting at 11 a.m. The parade through downtown Huntsville will be themed, "Honoring all who Served." The two-mile parade will begin in Lot K. It will make a clockwise route around downtown, going to Veterans Memorial Park and back to Lot K. Pre-parade events will start at 10 a.m. at the Huntsville-Madison County Veterans Memorial Park.

The Veterans Day parade in Birmingham was held virtually in 2020, due to COVID-19. It was the first year people did not get together for the parade in its 73-year history.

Not even rain or storms have stopped the parade in the past, and for the last several years, the parade had to be moved due to interstate bridge construction in downtown Birmingham. For the 74th National Veterans Day Parade, the route has changed back to the original route and will be live and in-person.

The Birmingham parade will begin at 1:30 p.m., rain or shine. The National Veterans Day Foundation recognizes and sanctions the Birmingham parade.

Ahead of Veterans Day, lawmakers in Washington recognized those who have fought for our country.

Sen. Tommy Tuberville recognized five veterans from Alabama on the Senate Floor. 

“Like that of Corporal Edsel Bonds from Samson, Alabama, who experienced a shell blast to his right femur on January 28, 1966, while on a mission to intercept guerillas during the Vietnam War… Corporal Bonds risked his life and limb because he believed that America is worth sacrificing for.

“One-hundred-year-old Sergeant George Mills of Decatur, Alabama, showed great bravery during his time serving in World War II. During this initial attack, Sergeant Mills – despite being injured - sprang to action to help save the lives of those in his company.  He was awarded a Purple Heart for his bravery.

“Another American hero is Fred Lacy, of Auburn, Alabama. A Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army, Mr. Lacy provided valuable leadership and negotiation skills during his time in Europe, Korea, and Vietnam…When reflecting on his service, he says that it was, ‘a privilege to serve.’ And that spirit of service is something he carries with him even after his time in the military.

“Corporal Clyde Haynes from Vestavia Hills, Alabama, ... served in the Army Air Forces’ 439th Troop Carrier Group during World War II. Mr. Haynes shared the joy of walking with children in France as they rushed out of their houses and filled the streets to celebrate their new liberation from Nazi rule.”

“Most of us will never know the full weight of preserving our freedom - never have to endure sleepless nights from the harrowing memories of the battlefield, bear pain from war injuries, or miss important events with our family and friends," Tuberville continued. “Like Ryan Charrier, from Orange Beach, Alabama, who served as a United States Air Force Technical Sergeant in the War in Afghanistan with the 442nd Fighter Wing. He received his first deployment when his children were just eight and four years old.

“May we join together as a nation this Veterans Day to honor our veterans who have served this nation and defended our freedom and values we hold so dear. To our veterans, I say ‘thank you’ for your sacrifice. Our nation will be forever indebted to you.”