Submitted by: Theresa Groves
One summer night in 2011 in Decatur, Alabama, a group of Morgan County Post 15 members came up with the idea of building a float for the upcoming Veterans Day parade. Little did they know that this idea would blossom into a beneficial and fun project for years to come.
This merry band of Legionnaires, Auxiliary members, Sons, and Legion Riders proved to be talented artists, carpenters, engineers, logisticians and actors. This group of individuals feels that Veterans Day is a special day of honor for our nation’s veterans; that this is a special time to say thank you to all vets and to honor those who have made the supreme sacrifice.
Our first float featured a home-made flag with the hand-embroidered names of the Morgan County residents who served in the Vietnam war as members of the Army Special Forces. The flag was made by Bill Smith, a Vietnam Special Forces veteran, a Post 15 Legionnaire, and a Legion Rider. Not only did the flag list the names of Special Forces members of the Vietnam era from Morgan County, but Bill hand-sewed their company patches onto the flag as well.
Over the ensuing years we represented different military themes on our floats. On each of the floats there has been a variety of family members and veterans. In 2011 our float not only displayed the hand-made flag, but we displayed several military uniforms on people and mannequins. In 2012 our theme was “Home of the Brave,” and we displayed two different wall-size paintings of the “Iwo Jima Memorial,” and the “Three Servicemen Memorial.” The float in 2013 saw us build a giant eagle under the theme of “All Gave Some – Some Gave All” honoring all veterans. In 2014 we displayed the twin towers from 9/11/01. In 2015 we honored female veterans with a float theme of the “Vietnam Women’s Memorial” as living statues. The ladies, Legionnaires and Auxiliary members, donned green camo paint to make them look like statues. The ladies rode the float during the parade completely still. They garnered several comments from the audience during the parade. Spectators could not believe that they were real people. Again in 2016 we had members ride the float as the soldiers honoring veterans as shown on the Korean Memorial, “The Forgotten War.” Post members, Legionnaires, Auxiliary, Sons and Riders were painted in silver makeup and carried rifles and radios. The float in 2017 saw us depict the Vietnam Wall Memorial again with live float riders. In 2018 we depicted the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier including a Legionnaire dressed as a member of the Old Guard guarding the tomb.
Over the years this group of post members/float builders has become close friends, as we have learned to work as a well-oiled team planning, building, displaying, and deconstructing the floats. This has most definitely been a labor of love and fun. The giant eagle built in 2013 was donated to a local high school as a symbol of their mascot. Other pieces of the remaining floats hang in our post as artwork for the post. Not only do these pieces remind of us of the fun we have had building the floats and decorating for Veterans Days, but it serves to remind everyone who enters the post of the sacrifices made by all veterans, living and dead.
About the author:
Theresa and Roger Groves wrote this article. Theresa is a member of Morgan County, Alabama Auxiliary Unit 15, and Roger is a Legionnaire from Post 15. They have both held Post/Auxiliary Unit offices and both have held District 12 offices. Proud members of Post 15, they both also belong to the Riders Chapter 15 from the Post.