The American Legion William R. Schnug Post 614 has named a local World War II veteran as the Grand Marshal of its Nov. 6 Veterans Day parade.
Julian Smith served in the Merchant Marines in the European, African and Pacific theaters during the war. He will be honored for his service in the parade, which is planned for 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 6. Post 614 will hold the parade on that Sunday to allow more people to attend than might be possible on Friday, Nov. 11.
“There’s a lot of wars right now, and they are all unpredictable, but the best thing you can do, if you’re called upon to serve, is to serve your country,” Smith said. “That’s the best advice I can give.”
The parade will leave the Franklin County Fairgrounds and travel down Main Street to Scioto Darby Road. It will enter Municipal Park on Veterans Memorial Drive, ending at the Veterans Memorial Park. A brief ceremony, 21-gun salute, and Taps will occur at the memorial.
“The theme of this year’s parade is ‘We are FREE to be HERE, because OUR VETERANS were THERE,’” said one of Post 614’s parade organizers. “This is so true, but often taken for granted or forgotten completely. ’Freedom is not free’ is not just a meme.”
Post 614 also will offer its annual free public beans and cornbread meal from 4 to 7 p.m. Nov. 11 at Hilliard Church of Christ, 4300 Avery Road.
The simple dish is emblematic of everything America stands for, from feeding hard-working coal miners in Appalachia to being a symbol of success after the first space shuttle was launched into the galaxy.
The parade includes such things as veterans, veteran support groups, American Legion and VFW entries, color guards and drill teams from Junior ROTC groups from neighboring high schools and the Central Ohio Young Marines, Post 614, Hilliard Division of Police, and Norwich Township color guards, and military vehicles.
Other entries in past years have included the Franklin County Horse Patrol, a Hilliard high school band, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, American Heritage Girls, Hilliard youth groups, antique and classic vehicles, Shriners and other “little cars,” Hilliard civic organizations, restaurants, and businesses. Mid-Ohio Jeep Club usually brings 30 to 40 Jeeps.
The Veterans Day Parade started in downtown Columbus in 1947. At that time, it was sponsored by the American Legion, Department of Ohio, 12th District. In 1983, then-mayor Roger A. Reynolds invited the parade to Hilliard.
Smith served as a U.S. Merchant Marine from January 1944 to April 1947. His work took him to South America, Italy, and North Africa. He was in Karachi, Pakistan; Solin, Croatia; India; and along both U.S. coasts. He also visited France, Argentina, and Japan.
Smith’s service included close calls with Germans and a typhoon, a bout with dysentery, and preparations for an invasion of Japan – which was fortunately cancelled when the war ended.
“It was a good experience, and I would do it again,” Smith said. “But since I was younger, I had no idea what was going on from one trip to another. We just did our duty, because we were supposed to do that. We didn’t think anything of it.”