Honoring sacrifice: Local parade marks V-J Day in Seymour


Seymour’s tradition of celebrating the end of a war that cost 8,131 Hoosiers, including 72 from Jackson County, their lives continued Sunday.

At 1 p.m., the annual V-J Day Parade — featuring a variety of veterans organizations and community groups, marching units and floats — began on Community Drive near the high school.

The city’s first organized V-J Day observation, which included a patriotic parade, a memorial service and a fireworks display, was held Aug. 17, 1947, although there were less formal events including parades in the city celebrating the end of the war on Aug. 15-16 in 1945 and in 1946.

The event celebrating America’s victory over Japan on Aug. 15, 1945, was organized by Leslie-Zimmerman-Arbuckle Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1925, which still organizes the parade.

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The 72nd edition of the parade, which featured 49 entries, proceeded up West Second Street, made a left onto Walnut Street and then headed west on Fifth Street and back to the high school.

About 60 entries had been expected, and organizers aren’t sure why some didn’t show up, but overall, they were happy with the attendance.

“This was the largest crowd we’ve had in about five years,” said Steve Cox, president of the VFW Auxiliary.

It helped that Mother Nature provided a pleasant afternoon full of plenty of sunshine for the event, Cox said.

He said that comes on the heels of rain or the threat of rain during the past three parades.

It also helped that the 240 members of the Seymour High School band, including its new color guard, decided to participate for the first time in a couple of years, Cox said.

Donielle Underwood attended the parade with other members of her family, including her 6-year-old daughter, Kayce Underwood, to watch Kayce’s older sisters perform with the band.

While Kayce was interested in watching the band and her sisters and other units, she also was interested in collecting some of the candy being distributed by various parade units.

But it wasn’t all about that, her mother said.

“She knows a little bit about the military,” Donielle said. “Her granddaddy was a veteran.”

The V-J Day Parade is not the only one in the United States. It is, however, believed to be the longest consecutive one conducted.

The focus and theme have changed over the years because many veterans of World War II have died or are unable to attend due to their age or health.

With that in mind, the VFW has made the parade about recognizing all veterans.

“We continue to honor World War II veterans, but they are getting few and far between,” Cox said.

The parade is a tradition Cox has said he wants to see continued for years to come.

Some people have said the parade should no longer be held because it is disrespectful toward Japanese families living in the community, but that is not the intent, Cox said.

John Sprenger is not one of those who believes the parade should be discontinued.

The 87-year-old Seymour native said those who want the parade to end haven’t served overseas and don’t know what servicemen and women have gone through or they might think differently.

Sprenger was stationed in Alaska, just across the Bering Sea from Russia, during the Korean War after the Russians started building up forces in both Europe and Siberia.

“It was 65 below,” said Sprenger, who was a member of the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division.

Allen Morrison, 36, who attended with wife, Carrie, 31, and their young daughter, Lettie Morrison, said he comes from a family in which at least one member of almost every generation has served their country.

“I am a bigger supporter of the military,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what branch. They need to be taken care of and supported.”

Morrison, who also is a board member of the Freeman Army Airfield Museum, said Sunday was the first chance he had had to attend the parade since moving here from Clarksville, Tennessee.

His wife is from the Seymour area, however, and she said she attended the parade several times when she was growing up.

Their daughter also is going to learn about history in the years to come, he said.

“It needs to be remembered, and the kids need to learn it in school,” Allen said.

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