Hundreds of people lined the street and participated in the 2002 Loyalty Day Parade in Brazil.
"With all the veterans who have served their country in the military forces over the years, there are still some who have never been recognized or thanked for their service," Clay County Veteran Service Officer Les Walden said Thursday morning. He helped organize the 2006 Loyalty Day activities planned for this Saturday.
The event was created for Clay County citizens to join together and give special recognition to every veteran, past or present.
At a time when many people are weighing the pros and cons of the United States' military presence around the world, Walden urges people be mindful of a soldier's duty to their country.
"They're following orders and sometimes that puts them in harm's way. We have the right to disagree in this country because they fight for that right. They need our support, our respect. Freedom is definitely not free, it's wrong to think otherwise," Walden said.
"These men and women take at least two years out of their lives to fight for this country and the rights of its citizens if needed. Veterans take service to their country seriously and they enjoy the appreciation of their country. They don't ask for it, but they deserve it."
The public is invited to attend the many special events planned this year by all the county's veterans' organizations as a way to show that appreciation.
"The veterans notice everything at these events," he said. "When they get together afterwards and start talking about it, they say things like, 'Did you see that little boy salute the flag?' or 'Did you see so and so there?' We want lots of people to come Saturday. It means so much to the veterans to see them there."
Beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday, there will be a special musical program in the Forest Park Pavilion by the Jackson Township Community Band under the direction of Matthew Huber.
Lt. Col. Kip Clark and special guest speaker Master Sgt. Terry Gibbens, who recently returned from Afghanistan, will address the crowd after the musical program. All attending veterans will be recognized with certificates and pins in honor of their service. A drawing will be held to give away various prizes, including a television to one veteran in the audience.
Brazil Elks Lodge No. 762 will provide a pork chop dinner for all veterans and their guests immediately after the program. This is the fourth year the group has served lunch for the veterans.
Brazil City Police Chief Mark Loudermilk told The Brazil Times that all vehicles will need to be removed from National Avenue between the U.S. 40 and S.R. 340 split to Vandalia Street before 1 p.m. Saturday. The road will be closed to traffic in preparation for the Loyalty Day Parade that begins at 2 p.m., and remain closed until the parade is over.
"We encourage late entries in the parade," Walden said. "If someone wants to be there in support of the veterans, then we're all for it. They just need to come down the area around Depot Street before 2 p.m. and we'll get them registered and then get them where they need to be."
Highlights of this year's 50 parade entries include a trailer float with veterans from past wars, an American Legion motorcycle group from Indianapolis and the newly formed volunteer equestrian/ATV posse used by the Clay County Sheriff's Department in missing person searches and disasters.
Right after the parade, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 1127 will have free hot dogs and drinks for parade participants while the panel of judges decide the trophy winners of the top two entries in the parade.