JACKSON, LA (WAFB) - For the first time in 40 years, a Veterans Day Parade will roll in downtown Baton Rouge. The organizers have asked veterans from the Jackson Veterans Home to take part.
"We're going to do our part to help the vets make this parade a reality," said East Feliciana Parish Sheriff Jeff Travis.
Marvin Ragland, known as "Bud," is a Korean War veteran and a resident at the Jackson Veterans Home in East Feliciana Parish. He and other veterans at the home were invited to be a part of the Veterans Day parade this weekend.
"I took it upon myself to call upon some of my friends when I used to be a cotton farmer in East Carroll Parish in north Louisiana," said Ragland.
His friend and a fellow veteran donated a trailer. Ragland went straight to Sheriff Travis to ask for help. The sheriff went to Dixon inmates for assistance with welding and painting. "They assisted the war vets in fixing the trailer to where it can be wheelchair accessible and getting the wheelchairs on and off," said Travis.
The inmates fitted the trailer with hooks so they can secure wheelchairs to ride in the parade. In total, 16 wheelchairs will fit on the float, not to mention another trailer is in the works to be outfitted as well. Plus, both trailers will be decked out with signs to show appreciation for healthcare and transporters, firemen, police officers, and troops serving the country right now. There will even be some hand painted signs, also provided by the inmates.
"I am a veteran, but not a hero. The heroes are those that you can see in this home right here who are riding up and down in wheelchairs or had their legs shot off or blown off or they were wounded," said Ragland.
To some, it may be just a parade the men and women get to be a part of, but for Ragland and all the veterans at the Jackson home, it means the world. "It's a fulfillment for me to be able to say I helped some guys get to ride in a parade who otherwise would not have been able to," said Ragland.
To simply be able to honor those who have protected the flag, is something Ragland cannot even put into words without tearing up. "It's a patriotic feeling you cannot measure and I'm proud," said Ragland.
To ensure the veterans get to Baton Rouge for the parade, Sheriff Travis is providing transportation and assistance. "I think it is a sense of pride to have the war veterans home here. It means so much," said Travis.
The parade is on Sunday, November 12 and will roll at 2 p.m. starting at the USS Kidd in downtown Baton Rouge.