Tucson’s 89th Veterans Day parade will take place Tuesday. But if veterans want to see the parade survive to its 90th, 91st, 92nd year and beyond, the sponsoring group will need some help.
The Morgan McDermott American Legion Post No. 7 has historically put on the parade. But parade chairman Al Hubert fears the nine-decade tradition will die out if more veterans’ groups and young veterans of the current wars don’t become involved.
Within the next few years, “Post 7 won’t be able to put on a parade because most of the members will have passed. I’m the youngest. I’m 60,” he said.
Hubert said he had a real struggle pulling together the parade. In September, he sent a letter to 44 veterans’ organizations, asking for volunteers to organize the parade. He ended up with a parade committee of five people from only two groups – Post 7 and VFW Post 10188. Only 10 of the groups have entries in the 85-entry parade.
An estimated 180,000 veterans live in Tucson, Hubert said, practically pleading for wider participation.
Part of the problem, Hubert said, is that both Post 7 and other organizations have come to see the parade as the sole turf and responsibility of Post 7. When he talks to groups about participating, they say, “That’s under the arm of Post 7.” The attitude has to change because the parade is not a celebration of Post 7 but of all veterans, Hubert said.
Additionally, because the veterans’ groups don’t cater to younger veterans, the parade effort is sorely lacking in new blood and the energy it brings.
“I’m running out of help. Three or four of us are actually doing all the legwork and that’s rough,” Hubert said.
Hubert said Post 7 has traditionally started planning for the parade in September, which isn’t enough lead time because other local events honoring veterans that day are competing for bands, color guards and so on. Next year, he will start planning earlier and hopes that people and organizations will be more responsive. You may call him at 668-2566 if you’re interested in lending a hand in future parades.
“If we don’t do something here, we really are going to have a very interesting parade that is going to get more interesting every year. It’s going to go down the drain,” he said.
Hubert knows he may tick off some folks with his stark assessment of the parade’s plight, but, frankly, he doesn’t care. His sole interest is in keeping Tucson’s tradition of honoring our veterans alive.
“I feel it’s important because I didn’t get a parade when I came home,” said Hubert, a Marine Corps veteran of the Vietnam War.
Anne T. Denogean can be reached at 573-4582 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Address letters to P.O. Box 26767, Tucson, AZ 85726-6767. Her columns run Tuesdays and Fridays.