Veterans Day holds special meaning for Fayetteville because of its connection to neighboring Fort Bragg, one of the largest military installations in the world by population with roughly 54,000 military personnel.
The city will pay tribute to veterans with six days of observances, including the 10th anniversary of the Heroes Homecoming Celebration and the annual Veterans Day parade.
“Other than the Children's Gala as well as a small fee for the chili cookoff, most everything is free,” said Angie Brady, director of tourism for the Cumberland County Fayetteville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.
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The patriotic parade, organized by the Cumberland County Veterans Council and the city of Fayetteville, will kick off Heroes Homecoming activities leading up to Veterans Day.
According to a news release from the Visitors Bureau, Heroes Homecoming was created as a way to recognize and show appreciation to all veterans for their courage and sacrifice to defend America’s freedom.
“To say 'thank you' is the whole idea behind the homecoming,” Brady said. “To say 'thank you' to our veterans and active-duty personnel. With the theme this year honoring Heroes at Home, we're recognizing family members, children, extended families that make sacrifices when active-duty or veterans want to serve. I certainly hope that (civilians) understand that there are people in this community that make a sacrifice, as well.”
This year’s celebration will include more than 15 gatherings hosted by 35 local organizations, according to the Visitors Bureau website.
“From parades and student-led initiatives to lectures, festivals, cultural celebrations, and recognition ceremonies, all Heroes Homecoming events will pay tribute to the continued service of our brave veterans and their families,” the website reads.
Here’s a rundown of upcoming activities to recognize Veterans Day:
Registration is free and available online to all transitioning military personnel, veterans, military spouses and dependents.
The Iron Mike Conference Center is at 2658 Reilly St., Suite 5-5348, on Fort Bragg.
The grand marshals are the Davis family.
Chris Davis is a veteran who serves as a pastor of the Force of Life church in Fayetteville. Davis previously served on the Fayetteville City Council. His wife, Demetria Davis, is the reigning North Carolina Mother of the Year. Together, their experience as a military family with ties to Fayetteville “make them great representatives of the huge number of families in our community who have supported their family members’ military career,” according to parade organizers.
The ranch is at 2990 Sunnyside School Road.
Activities are open to the public, and admission is free. Food trucks will sell food.
“This night is dedicated to the children of military families, along with other heroes at home who will escort them, such as caregivers, parents and the military hero,” according to a news release.
The gala is for children ages 4 to 12 and their families and will include a formal evening of fun, food, music and games. Formal attire is required, and service members are asked to wear their dress uniforms.
Space is limited to 150 guests, and admission is limited to military families with children.
Call Sharjuan Burgos at the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic to reserve a spot.
The Rolling Thunder bikers group hopes to bring attention to the history of American POWs and MIA soldiers.
The local chapter partners with the Visitors Bureau to provide Missing Man Table kits to local businesses and organizations to pay tribute to the more than 85,000 American service men and women who remain unaccounted for. The reserved tables and chairs sit unoccupied to represent soldiers who are or have been prisoners of war or missing in action.
Organizers aim to set up 170 Missing Man Tables and 10 honor chairs for Veterans Day.
Businesses or organizations that wish to take part can find information at https://heroeshomecoming.com/missing-man-project/ or www.rollingthunder-nc1.com.
Tables should be set up by Nov. 1 and kept on display through November at the individual or organization offices.
There is no charge for the kit.
Other activities during Heroes Homecoming include:
Michael Futch covers Fayetteville and education for CityView. He can be reached at email@example.com.