Youngsville Marching Eagles take Manhattan
The Youngsville High School Marching Band marched in honor of current service members and veterans in the 100th annual New York City Veterans Day Parade on Monday.
The parade is produced by the United War Veterans Council and is the largest event of it’s kind in the nation. It began in 1919 as the United States celebrated Armistice Day as soldiers came home from war.
On November 11, 1918, gunfire ceased in World War I as the Armistice ending the fighting took hold. The following year, communities marked the first anniversary of the Armistice with events around the world.
The purpose of the parade is to honor veterans, raise awareness of those who serve veterans and salute the brave men and woman who are currently serving in the military.
This year’s event commemorated the centennial of Veterans Day, formerly Armistice Day. Although all branches are honored and commemorated during the event, the United States Marine Corps was this year’s featured military branch.
The opening ceremony of this year’s parade included a speech from President Donald Trump addressing current service members and veterans. The parade route went north on Fifth Avenue from 26th to 46th street, stretching 1.2 miles.
“The coolest part is that you march right past the Empire State Building,” said Youngsville’s Marching Eagles Band Director Cindy Scheid. “It was very exciting, the buildings are really big and the people along the route are very grateful.”
The Youngsville marching band was one of 300 marching elements and an estimated almost 30,000 participants that included veterans of all eras, military units, civic and youth groups, businesses and top high school marching bands from across the country.
Floats, military and vintage vehicles and other special elements filled the streets with patriotic excitement.
The band previously marched in the 90th annual Veterans Day Parade.
“To go, you have to go through an application selection process and they select the bands they want to be there,” said Scheid. “It’s a great opportunity because you have to be selected, not just any band goes. It was an awesome trip.”
Scheid recalled an “adorable” moment when the band was in the practice area, “there was a little boy, at the oldest four, he came up [to us] and said ‘I wanna play,’ and wanted to direct, so we let him. We taught him ‘horns up’ and that if he puts his hands out after the band will play and [the band did.] It was the perfect little moment.”
The band only had one week in between the end of their competition season and the parade to prepare to play the patriotic medley, “Patriots on Parade.”
“I only scheduled four rehearsals and they did really fantastic doing it in that amount of time,” said Scheid.
The evening before the parade, all of the bands attended a dinner and dance cruise that circled around the Statue of Liberty on the Hudson River.
“The kids said it was better than homecoming,” said Scheid.
The group also had the chance to visit Times Square and the 9/11 memorial.
While their bus was parked in front of NBC Studios, Scheid said that Mario Lopez walked right by them.
Scheid further described the 9/11 memorial as a “surreal moment.”
“We realized that these kids had not been born yet [when 9/11 happened.] Other students were looking for specific names on the walls that go around the reflection pools. It was very emotional,” said Scheid.
The five grand marshals for the centennial parade represented eras of service from World War II through present day.
Herschel “Woody” Williams is a World War II Marine Corps hero. During the early years of WWII, he informed families of the death of their loved ones serving through telegrams and officially volunteered for the US Marine Corps in 1943.
On February 23, 1945, as a 21-year-old marine corporal, Williams went forward alone during the Battle of Iwo Jima and eliminated a series of entrenched enemy machine gun positions. These actions earned him the Medal of Honor, the US’s highest award for valor.
Williams went on to serve 20 years in the Marine Corps and reserve. He also worked for 33 years for the Department of Veterans Affairs as a Veterans Service Representative.
Hiroshi “Hershey” Miyamura is a US Army veteran who represented the veterans of the Korean War era.
Miyamura was called into active duty in the summer of 1950 and was deployed to Korea as a corporal. His unit’s position was assaulted by a superior Chinese force on the evening of April 24-25 1951 when Miyamura was wounded and badly bleeding. Despite this, he single-handedly held off the attacking force, allowing the rest of his men to retreat safely before he lost consciousness and was captured.
He was released on August 20, 1953 and was officially presented the Medal of Honor from President Dwight Eisenhower in October 1953.
Miyamura remains active in supporting fellow veterans and his community.
Former US Senatory Bob Kerrey, US Navy SEAL veteran, represented the Vietnam era of service. He served as an elite SEAL officer during the Vietnam War.
On March 14, 1969, Kerry received injuries that would result in lifelong disabilities while in command of a SEAL Team during a mission. Despite these injuries, he continued to lead his men until he was evacuated by helicopter. He received the Medal of Honor for his actions from President Richard Nixon in May 1970.
Eddie Ray is a US Marine Corps veteran who represented Desert Storm era service.
On February 24, 1991, Allied forces launched Operation Desert Storm with the mission to liberate Kuwait. Then-Captain Ray received word one day into the operation that his division’s command post had been threatened by a large force of Iraqi armored vehicles. Ray bravely ordered his outnumbered force to charge into the oncoming brigade, capturing more than 250 enemy soldiers and destroyed over fifty enemy vehicles.
For his leadership and courage, he was awarded the Navy Cross, one of only two awarded during Desert Storm. He continued his career in the Marines, retiring in 2008 with the rank of Colonel.
Ray remains active in the veterans community, serving as co-founder and emeritus board member of Veterans and Athletes United.
Zach Iscol, US Marine Corps veteran turned veteran-focused entrepreneur, represented the Post-9/11 era of service.
Iscol was commissionED on August 11, 2001, as a US Marine Corps officer following graduation from Cornell University. The 9/11 attacks on New York City launched his wartime service in September 2001.
He served two tours in Iraq as an infantry officer as well as in the Marine Corp’s Special Operations Command in assignments throughout Africa and the Middle East.
Upon leaving the military, Iscol founded three different organizations dedicated to serving veterans: Headstrong, Hirepurpose and Task and Purpose.
To all current service members and veterans, thank you for your service.