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99th represented in Memorial Day Parade years ago

By ARNOLD TAYLOR

John Phillip Sousa long ago wrote the stirring "Washington Post March." The 99th Infantry Division hereby posts its march in Washington (D.C.) on Memorial Day of the year 2007.

Thirteen stalwart veterans of that illustrious division marched and rode to the cheers of the largest crowd lining Constitution Avenue in any of the previous three Memorial Day parades.

Here is the way it began for us: Before the march, the veterans and their families gathered in the parish hall of St. Mark's Episcopal Church on Capitol Hill for lunch. During that time a video of the 2006 parade was shown on a giant screen.

Veterans were then transported to the assembly area, family members were transported to the line of march to cheer as each unit passed by.

Step-off time was 2 p.m. We were the 83rd of 170 nits that included high school and college bands, a multitude of units carrying the colors, dozens of antique cars, and colorful representatives of all the wars in which the United States has been involved from the Indian wars, Revolutionary War, War of 1812, the Civil War, WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

The 99th Infantry Division was the only division represented apart from the 82nd and 101st Airborne. All the members of the latter outfits rode in military vehicles.

Seven 99'ers hoofed it for the mile walk in the hot sun. Three rode in a genuine WWII Army jeep driven by Miles Hamby. The others rode in a specially prepared pickup driven by WWII buff Brooks Tegler, the leader of the band that played at the reception at the 58th annual convention in Washington, D.C., in September.

Our unit was led by Cliff Savage of Mississippi, carrying the colors, followed by David Perlman of Maryland carrying the 99th Infantry Division banner.

The marchers were Wilbur Young and Arnold Taylor of Washington, D.C., Pat Morris and Al Bucci of Maryland, and Sam Lombardo of Pennsylvania.

Ken Myers and George Serkedakis of Maryland and Jack Rue of Virginia rode in the jeep. Carl Hall, Buck Shelton, and Winston Beavers of Virginia and Chuck Harrington of Delaware rode in the pickup.

The cheers along the way and the shouts of "Thank you!" were music to our ears even though we never thought of our service in that way.

At 3 p.m. during this Memorial Day march, there was a three-minute pause and silence by all the marchers and bands and crowds while "Taps" was sounded over the loudspeakers. There were tears in the eyes of the men and women along the parade route and among the marchers.

When the 99'ers reached the dispersal area, they and their family members were brought back to the parish hall for rest, relaxation, more snacks, and a video focused on the 99'ers in the parades of 2004, 2005, and 2006.

Stories were shared by the veterans, highlights of their time in combat. Every volunteer reported that this was the most important part of the program for them. They shared those stories with their fellow church men and women and with their neighbors. It was a day for sharing memories and having them remembered.

Special note was made of our marchers in previous years who have joined their comrades in the great beyond — James Strawder, Sid Salins, Oliver McKee, and Charles Brockway.

If any 99'ers wish to take part in the 2008 National Memorial Day Parade, contact coordinator Arnold Taylor (your favorite MP) at 507 Third Street SE, Washington, D.C. 20003-1933, by phone at 202-547-7962, or e-mail ahnoldt@aol.com.

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