The sacrifices of America's military veterans will be remembered Saturday in Ottawa with a downtown parade followed by military demonstrations, battle re-enactments, exhibits and USO-style shows.
The parade, which is thought by organizers to be one of the largest Veterans Day celebration parades in Kansas, will start at 10:45 a.m. A few minutes later the procession on Main Street will halt and a short ceremony will be held at the Franklin County Veterans Memorial in front of the county courthouse.
The parade always draws crowds of people along both sides of the street.
"I think it has kind of spilled over from the county veteran's memorial," said Harold Mayes, one of the organizers of the day's events. "There was a lot of interest in getting people recognized from the county who participated in the wars. And part of it is, people just like a parade."
The parade will feature more than 100 entries and will probably last about 90 minutes, Mayes said. It will begin at Fifth and Main streets and, following the memorial ceremony, will continue to Forest Park.
The park will be the site for military vehicle and related equipment displays. The Fort Riley Mounted Cavalry will do a demonstration. There also will be demonstrations and talks about the Civil and Spanish-American wars and World War I. World War II-era American and German equipment will be on display. A World War II battle re-enactment will take place in the afternoon.
Here is a schedule for the Saturday Veterans Day parade and celebration. More detailed information can be found online at www.ottawavets.org. ¢ 10:45 a.m.: Parade starts. ¢ 10:50 a.m.: Ceremony at the Franklin County War Veterans Memorial. ¢ Noon: Military vehicles and other displays at Forest Park. ¢ 1 p.m.: Fort Riley Mounted Cavalry demonstration, Forest Park. ¢ 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.: "A Tribute to Bob Hope," USO show, Ottawa Municipal Auditorium. Tickets required. ¢ 3:15 p.m.: World War II American and German battle re-enactment.
Among the German re-enactors will be Heath Hensley, of Pratt. Hensley is adept at portraying British and Russian soldiers, too. He heads his own unit that normally portrays a British Airborne unit.
"I was always kind of fascinated with the British Airborne and what they did at Normandy," he said, referring to the D-Day invasion of France. "There is no British re-enacting around here so I formed my own unit."
There aren't many German re-enactors either, which is why Hensley will be in Ottawa wearing a German uniform.
"They were having a shortage of German soldiers," Hensley said.
This year's battle re-enactment will have an added touch of realism, Mayes said. The outlines of buildings have been built for the battle, he said.
Also featured for the fourth straight year will be a USO-style show. Its presentation will pay tribute to the late comedian Bob Hope. The show, a production by the Ottawa Community Arts Council, is a ticketed event. Call 785-242-8478 for more information.