A parade honoring World War II veterans and featuring more than 125 military-related units will be held Monday morning as part of holiday weekend activities marking the dedication of the World War II Memorial.
The parade, which organizers say is the first Memorial Day parade in the nation's capital in more than 60 years, will start at 8 a.m. at Third Street and Madison Drive on the Mall, and end three hours later at Independence Avenue and 12th Street SW. It is being held early in the morning in advance of a wreath-laying ceremony and memorial service at 11 a.m. at Arlington National Cemetery's Tomb of the Unknowns.
Grand marshals include entertainers Nancy Sinatra, Connie Stevens and Paul Revere and the Raiders, as well as retired Army Maj. Gen. J. Milnor Roberts and his wife, Priscilla, retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Wilma Vaught and National Baseball Hall of Fame members Bob Feller and Monte Irvin, who both interrupted their sports careers to serve in World War II.
Lillian K. Keil, a former Army flight nurse who is considered the most decorated woman in U.S. military history, is also serving as a grand marshal, organizers said. She took part in the invasion of Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge during World War II, and later served in Korea.
Parade participants will include units from the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars; Catholic War Veterans; the Tuskegee Airmen; Iwo Jima veterans; the Red Cross; and Rolling Thunder. There will also be units from the WAVES (Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service), WACS (Women's Army Corps) and Buffalo Soldiers, as well as World War II medical personnel; World War II Submarine Veterans; Jewish War Veterans; Native American war veterans; and the Military Order of the Purple Heart.
High school bands from more than 40 states, France and Canada will also be part of the parade.
The Canadian embassy has provided funds to rent more than 2,500 chairs for veterans to use along the parade route.
Parade organizers are depending on support from the private sector to pay for the parade.
James Roberts, president of the World War II Veterans Committee and director of the parade's executive committee, called the parade "a grass-roots effort" and said additional donations are needed to help cover its $150,000 cost.