Anniston Veterans Day Parade BW 16.JPG

Anniston Veterans Day Parade on Noble Street Sunday afternoon.Molly Edwards,79, having fun during the parade. She was on a float with other veterans. She served 21 years in the Army. Photo by Bill Wilson / The Anniston Star

Anniston’s annual Veteran’s Day ceremony started from humble beginnings, long before names were etched in granite at Centennial Memorial Park. 

“We started off with a plywood wall with the named painted on it out of Birmingham,” said Ken Rollins, who organizes annual events at the park for Memorial Day and Veterans Day. “Now we’ve got the permanent walls and the official wall for the state of Alabama.” 

Rollins said Monday’s ceremony, starting at 11 a.m. in the small park next to the Pic n’ Save, marks the 29th year of the event he helped found. The first meeting was in May 1990, he said. The memorial wall was dedicated in 1998. 

“It’s a big deal to me to see the people when they get out there and the veterans get a hug and handshake and a ‘thank you,’” said Ken Rollins, who organizes the annual event. 

A parade will follow the ceremony at 2 p.m., running from the intersection of Noble and 15th streets to Noble and Ninth streets. 

Rollins said he hoped residents would watch the ceremony and view the names on the walls and remember the people memorialized in the stone. 

“That’s the cost of freedom right there,” he said. “That’s the receipt.” 

In addition to the Anniston events Monday, other organizations in Calhoun, Cleburne and Talladega counties have plans for Veterans Day and the days leading up to it: 

— Anniston Army Depot holds a ceremony Thursday at the installation’s physical fitness center at 10 a.m. According to a release about the event, around 640 veterans work among the 4,500 employees and contractors at the Depot. 

The Marion Military Institute White Knights precision drill team will perform, and Lt. Col. Martin Wennblom, commander of DLA Distribution Anniston, will speak. 

— Jacksonville State University hosts a ceremony Monday, followed by food, drinks, music, games and door prizes. The event is from noon to 3 p.m. at Leone Cole Auditorium. 

— Heflin has its annual Veterans Day breakfast Monday from 8 to 11 a.m. at Sgt. Maj. Harold Lee Jones Armory, 115 Evans St. 

— Talladega County’s annual parade is from 10 a.m. to noon Monday, starting at Kato’s and running along Johnson Avenue to North Street, then along North Street to the corner of East Street. 

Assistant Metro Editor Ben Nunnally: 256-235-3560. 

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