The nation’s oldest Veterans Day parade is gearing up for its 75th year in downtown Birmingham with both a return to its roots and a new attraction.
“Each year, we want to remember and honor our nation’s Veterans who have given so much of their lives — and some even life itself — and this year, we get to show our gratitude on a bigger scale,” said Mark Ryan, president of the National Veterans Day Foundation.
The Budweiser Clydesdales, the horses famous from the beer brand’s commercials, will be trotting along the parade route and throughout the Birmingham area for the parade’s diamond anniversary.
The horses, which will be joining veterans, color guards, drill teams and high school marching bands along the parade route, will also be providing Budweiser to bars along the route.
Like last year, the 75th Veterans Day Parade is returning to its traditional downtown route from before the construction of the I-20/59 bridges.
Here’s what you need to know about Birmingham 75th Veterans Day Parade:
The parade kicks off at 11 a.m., rain or shine.
The parade begins at the intersection of 18th Street North and 9th Avenue North and goes southbound on 18th Street North to 2nd Avenue North.
On 2nd Avenue North, the route goes east to 22nd Street North and heads northbound to 5th Avenue North.
The route then goes west on 5th Avenue North to 19th Street North.
The parade then travels north to the front of City Hall and ends at 19th Street North and 10th Avenue North:
The parade will be livestreamed on YouTube and the National Veterans Day Foundation’s website for those that cannot attend the festivities in person. The livestream will also be shown at VA hospitals across the country, according tot he foundation.
Honoring ‘true superheroes’:
The foundation is holding its annual dinner on Thursday before the parade at the Sheraton Downtown Ballroom.
Tickets must be purchased in advance for the event, which includes a dinner and awards ceremony.
“We look forward to having you join us as we celebrate our nation’s true superheroes,” the foundation said.
Remembering our Fallen:
From Wednesday through Thursday, an exhibit paying tribute to veterans will be on display at City Walk BHAM outside the Sheraton Ballroom:
Oldest Veterans Day parade
Birmingham’s parade, according to the organizers, is the country’s oldest, dating back to 1919, when the holiday was known as Armistice Day in celebration of World War I veterans. The Magic City’s Armistice Day Parade was recognized as one of the largest in the nation.
Raymond Weeks, a Birmingham World War II veteran who said the holiday should be a tribute of all veterans, led a delegation to Washington in 1947 to urge then-Army Chief of Staff Dwight Eisenhower to expand the celebration.
As president, Eisenhower signed legislation in 1954 creating the Veterans Day holiday.