Parachutists impress at annual Memorial Day Parade

May 26, 2014

The Salute to Veterans Memorial Day Parade continued its 26-year tradition with spectators coming together to watch the parade in downtown Columbia. The Salute to Veterans Corporation says the parade is specifically put on to honor and remember those who served and those currently serving in the armed forces, guard, reserves and our allies.

A special feature of the parade in 2014 was the Golden Knights Parachute Team; kick-starting the parade by parachuting into the intersections on Broadway Blvd. Don Gullicks has been attending the parade for four years and said the parachuting team will be his lasting memory of the parade.

One of the demonstration parachutists, Sgt. Blake Gaynor, has been jumping out of airplanes for four years. Gaynor said that this event is the ultimate opportunity to connect America’s public to its army.

“What better way to do that than by landing in a downtown intersection in Middle America,” Gaynor said. “This was the first time I’ve ever jumped into a downtown intersection. It was really exciting.”

The Salute to Veterans Corporation only allows members of Military Services and related fields to walk in the parade. One of the spectators, Judy Alexander, said this is her favorite parade to attend because it captures the essence of the holiday.

“It really focuses on what the purpose of the holiday is.” Alexander said. “It gives us a chance to give credit to those that have served before and that are still serving. I think it’s a very emotional experience.”

The Salute to Veterans Memorial Day Parade capped off the weekend festivities that included a two-day airshow at the Columbia Regional Airport. This year was also the 100th anniversary of World War I. The parade was put together by the Memorial Day Weekend Salute to Veterans Corportion, a private, not-for-profit, Missouri Company. The Corporation consists of over 3,000 volunteers and 100 volunteer committee chairmen.