A salute to past and present veterans will march through historic downtown Corsicana during the inaugural Texas Veterans Parade on Armed Forces Day, Saturday, May 18.
While Corsicana's Veterans Parade isn't new – the tradition dates back more than 100 years – the Texas Veterans Parade Corsicana Committee has revived the parade in honor of veterans of all wars and conflicts.
The parade will pay special tribute to two of Navarro County's heroes, 2014 Medal of Honor recipient Candelario “Spider” Garcia, and the namesake of our town and county, Jose Antonio Navarro – a signer of both the Texas Declaration of Independence and the Texas Constitution.
The parade will start at 10 a.m. at the World War II and Vietnam Memorial at the Navarro County Courthouse.
Grand Marshal for the Inaugural Texas Veterans Parade will be Fiske Hanley, a WWII combat veteran held prisoner at a Japanese POW camp.
Hanley was captured in early 1945 when his B-29 was shot down over Japan during his seventh combat mission.
He survived months of torture before his release following Japan's surrender later that year.
After his liberation from the POW camp, Hanley was invited by General Douglas MacArthur, the Supreme Allied Commander in the Pacific, to the deck of a ship in Tokyo Harbor where he watched the as the unconditional surrender treaty was signed aboard the battleship USS Missouri.
“Over 2,000 flyers like me were shot down over Japan during the War” Hanley said. “Only 200 of us survived the war.”
Hanley will represent his proud history at Saturday's celebration honoring those who fought - and are still fighting – and those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
The parade will also host floats, a flyover from Coyote Squadron of the Commemorative Air Force and a ground forces attachment from Gainesville, Texas with a dozen vintage military vehicles, the Corsicana Tiger and Mildred Eagles marching bands, the Corsicana High School Air Force JR ROTC and much more. Trophies will be awarded for the best entry in each category.
Prior to the parade, on Friday, May 17, the Committee will host the Collin Street Bakery Medal of Honor dinner at 6:30 p.m. at the Corsicana Country Club with guest of honor, Col. Don Ballard, a Vietnam veteran and Medal of Honor recipient.
Sylvia Navarro Tolliston, the great-great-great-granddaughter of Jose Antonio Navarro, will be the guest speaker.
The Texas Veterans Parade board of directors announced the creation of the following awards and honors to be bestowed upon the recipients. Each award is named after a prominent former Corsicana resident in honor of their service to this city and to our country.
Navarro-Garcia Patriot Award: The highest honor given from Navarro County, Texas for Patriotism. It is given annually to an American citizen who has demonstrated selfless service and leadership in the promotion and honoring of Veterans from the Lone Star State and beyond. The award is named for Jose Antonio Navarro, the namesake of Navarro County, who signed the Texas Declaration of Independence and wrote parts of the Texas Constitution. And, for Candelario “Spider” Garcia, 1962 Corsicana High School graduate, who received the Congressional Medal of Honor from President Obama in March of 2014. The honorees name is affixed to a beautiful permanent plaque that includes a World War II American rifle, that is on display in Corsicana in a prominent place.
Texas Governor Beauford Jester Award: Given to the Texas Veterans Parade Volunteer who is a Veteran of the United States Armed Forces, who makes the greatest contribution to the Texas Veterans Parade in Corsicana in a given year. This person demonstrates during the year vital qualities of leadership including inspiring others, creativity and getting things accomplished. The award is named for Beauford Jester from Corsicana who served his country in World War I and as the 36th Governor of Texas.
James Acree Award: Given to the Texas Veterans Parade Volunteer of the year who is not a military veteran. To a person who has worked during the last year with great determination and effort to making the Texas Veterans Parade in Corsicana, Texas a success. This award is named for James Acree, a Veteran of the Korean War who served as Corsicana High School’s football coach from 1960 to 1966, winning the AAA Texas State Championship in 1963 with a perfect record of 14-0. Jim Acree was a man of great determination and perseverance. His qualities are embodied in this award.
Limited tickets to the Medal of Honor dinner are still available for $39 per person. Tickets are available by calling 337-496-3615.