Tuesday night about 15 local veterans met at the American Legion Post 274 Hall to plan a May 11 event to honor their fellow vets.
Only three months have passed since Vietnam Veterans in Victoria held the first “Parade That Never Was” in this area.
Now, Bee County veterans want to hold the same type of parade here.
The way veterans of the Vietnam era were treated when they came back to the United States has been a festering sore for decades. Instead of a “welcome home” parade, many of them were met at airports by protesters who taunted them with names like “baby killer.”
Those who met at the American Legion Hall Tuesday were representatives of three different veterans organizations, including the Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9170 and the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 929.
“The purpose of this parade is to welcome home veterans from Beeville and surrounding communities that participated in the Vietnam Conflict,” Navy veteran Armando Musquez said in a recent letter to veterans. But all veterans will be encouraged to take part in the event.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Musquez said there is no way of knowing how many parade watchers will show up for the march down North Washington Street. Apparently more than 10,000 spectators turned out for the event in Victoria on Oct. 13, 2012.
Musquez said the parade route will be much the same as that used during the annual Bee County Chamber of Commerce Parade during the Western Week Celebration.
The three veterans organizations will then host a luncheon for all veterans and their families at the Lucas-McNeill Pavilion at the Bee County Exposition Center.
County Commissioner Eloy Rodriguez, representing the VVA, said he thought there could be anywhere from 400 to 500 participants attending the luncheon.
Although members were proposing having barbecue, Richard Rodriguez suggested it would make more sense to serve hamburgers and hotdogs because if the group ran low on food it would be easy to buy and prepare more.
Eloy Rodriguez said the organizations were hoping to make about $10,000 by hosting the event. But once expenses were paid, the groups would donate any remaining money toward a scholarship fund.
“We’re not in this to make money,” Musquez said.
“We can use all the help we can get,” Mario Muñiz told the group. “This will be a one-time event and not an annual thing.”
Eloy Rodriguez said he would like to see veterans groups from neighboring cities invited to take part in the parade.
Those at the meeting said that at the Victoria parade, veterans often sat in seats on trailers. But other groups had their own floats and others walked the parade route.
The commissioner said organizers were hoping to have notices run in newspapers and at radio and television stations. And he said organizers also were hoping to make an appearance on the “Domingo Live” TV show on Channel 3 in Corpus Christi. “Domingo Live” host Rudy Treviño is a Beeville native.
Organizers also are planning to invite veterans who have served in any branch of the military since WWII and those who have returned from duty in Iraq and Afghanistan to participate in the parade.
Those attending said it would be a good idea to encourage other cities to host similar parades in honor of Vietnam veterans.
“Eventually, Texas will become the state that started the Parade That Never Was,” Musquez said.
“We’re in this together, guys,” Eloy Rodriguez said. He reminded those at the meeting that the three veterans organizations had been successful in other endeavors.
Those at the meeting were reminded that the effort was already $300 in the hole. It was suggested that each of the three veterans organizations put up $500 to start off the effort.
Organizers also asked that businesses and other organizations that would like to support the parade and luncheon donate to the effort.
Anyone wanting to help sponsor the event is being asked to contact either Eloy Rodriguez at (361) 319-6554 or Armando Musquez at (361) 3128-9517.
Donations should be mailed to Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 929, P.O. Box 4339, Beeville, TX 78104. Checks should be made out to VVA Chapter 929.
A parade entry form will be released later.
Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.