GALLIPOLIS — Veterans, families, friends and Gallia community members gathered along Second Avenue in Gallipolis Friday and in City Park in preparation for the annual Veteran’s Day Parade and Ceremony.
The parade started at roughly 10:30 a.m. and parade attendees collected in the park around 11 a.m.
Crowd members were asked to recite the Pledge of Allegiance next to the “Spirit of the Dough Boy” memorial in the park. The River Valley Phoenix Show Choir performed patriotic songs and the National Anthem for those in the crowd.
Gallia Academy High School graduate Dutch Fridd took the stage in his military regalia to serve as the keynote speaker of the occasion. Fridd served in the U.S. Army and was originally assigned to the 191st Assault Helicopter Company in Bear Cat Vietnam to serve in Aircraft Avionics as a door gunner on trooper carriers and gunships. After Fridd finished his tour in Vietnam in 1969, he attended OSU between 1970 and 1975.
Fridd would eventually return to the military in 1977 when he entered Warrant Officer Candidate School in Alabama. He would eventually serve as a scout pilot on an OH-58 helicopter, serve as a maintenance officer, an intelligence officer and a weapons officer.
“I’m honored to be here today because this is my hometown,” said Fridd. “I’m proud to be here to honor all you veterans. I can see the Korean veterans and I’m sure there are still some World War II guys around. Of course, close to my heart, are the Vietnam guys.”
“At any one time, one percent of our population is under uniform. These men and women make many sacrifices everyday. They live in terrible conditions at times, under fire … They’ve been all over to fight things like terrorism. And this is what we are here to honor, their sacrifices. They come from small towns, rural country. We’re the backbone of the military”
Fridd acknowledged it was important to support veterans and their sacrifices. However, he also emphasized the importance in appreciating family support because sometimes a family could suffer just as badly with the loss of a loved one in the military.
“We honor the veterans, but, you know the people that really deserve the honor are the families,” said Fridd. “They’re the ones that are back here and they have to wait on the uncertainty of what’s happening to their loved ones. I really want to honor and thank the family members for all their sacrifices. It is important that they be remembered.”
Gallia County Veterans Service Commission Executive Director John Thomas read a surprise letter from Fridd’s daughter. She said that despite the fact that she couldn’t be there to share in the moment with her father, she was proud to know that Gallia County was able to share in a moment honoring veterans with her father so that they would know the kind of hero he was and she always knew him to be.”
The ceremony was ended with a benediction and a firing salute and Taps played by the Honor Guard of VFW Post 4464.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.