Ken Rollins wishes more people would “walk the walk” when it comes to America’s veterans.
“Most of us have the same feeling,” Rollins, a Vietnam War veteran, said Wednesday. “A lot of people are wondering if their service — their husbands’ and sons’ service — is actually appreciated. We just need people to quit talking all the talk,” he said, “and start the walk.”
Rollins organizes Anniston’s annual Veterans Day ceremony at Centennial Memorial Park. He said that Calhoun County residents will get an opportunity to show their appreciation at the ceremony on Tuesday, Veterans Day.
The ceremony starts at 11 a.m., and will last about an hour. It’s the 24th such observance, featuring a memorial for fallen soldiers, a rifle salute and several survivors of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Anniston’s annual Veterans Day parade will start at 2 p.m., about two hours after the ceremony at the park ends.
Mike Abrams, a member of the veterans organization that organizes the parade, said the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office as well as the Anniston, Oxford and Jacksonville fire departments will participate.
Anniston High School’s band and junior Reserve Officer Training Corps will also march in the parade, which will run south down Noble Street from 15th to Ninth streets.
A parade review stand will be set up at the intersection of 11th and Noble streets, and Noble will be closed to traffic.
Abrams said that this year, Anniston Army Depot’s commanding officer, Col. Brent Bolander, accepted an invitation to be grand marshal of the parade.
While Anniston’s parade may not be able to compete with other larger Veterans Day parades in the state, Abrams said it is important that it continues.
“With McClellan, or what used to be McClellan, and the depot, and the large number of Afghanistan and Iraq War vets living in the area, this is important,” he said.
“Whether they come to the parade, see some of it on TV or read about it in the newspaper,” Abrams said, “it’s important that those younger veterans realize they can find help and support that is close.”
Two other events held before Veterans Day will also honor local veterans.
Racers participating in the fifth annual Capt. Kyle Comfort 5K will put feet to McClellan pavement Saturday to benefit wounded veterans and their families.
The race will start at McClellan Medical Park at 8 a.m. It’s the only fundraiser for the Kyle Comfort Memorial Foundation, which uses the money it raises to award grants to veterans and their families. Last year, the foundation awarded $29,000 in grants.
At 1 p.m. on Monday, disabled veteran and Jacksonville native Sgt. Ben Tomlinson’s smart home will be revealed. The house was built for the former Marine by Building for Our Bravest, a program of the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation.
The event is open to the public, and will take place on Jacksonville High School property across from Tomlinson’s home.
Part of George Douthit Drive will be closed for the event, and attendees should take Branscomb Drive to an overflow parking area behind Jacksonville High’s football stadium.