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Patriotic drive.

Byline: Winston Ross The Register-Guard

V e t e r a n s D a y

FLORENCE - Timm Sapp knows what it's like to stand motionless as fellow soldiers push a safety pin tied to a tripwire into a grenade, rescuing him from a North Vietnamese booby trap.

He's been ambushed, shot at and riddled with shrapnel; he's watched buddies die because they headed right when he headed left. So when Florence newcomer Cal Applebee approached Sapp about putting on Florence's first-ever Veterans Day parade, Sapp didn't hesitate.

Today's soldiers don't return to jeers of "Baby killer," but veterans such as Sapp did. Any opportunity to honor that service should be seized, he said.

"You realize how bad it is," Sapp said of his time in Vietnam. "How you wouldn't want your family to go through what those families (in the war zone) were going through. I was fighting for my country, but I was also fighting for my family."

Today, Sapp and other veterans will get a high-profile thank you as Old Town hosts what Applebee and others hope will be the start of an annual tradition.

"It's important to recognize the service people made, the sacrifices, not only from dying but having to live with the effects of that service," said Wayne Sharpe, a Marine who served during the Vietnam era and sits on the parade committee.

The idea for the parade came about after Applebee moved here last year from Central Oregon, where he often drove a vintage military jeep in Veterans Day parades. Readying his rig for Florence's event, Applebee discovered there was no event.

"It struck me as odd that nobody was doing it," Applebee said. `I thought, `There's no reason we can't.' '

So he asked around, found some local veterans groups and went to the city to see about a permit. Applebee isn't a veteran, but it is only fitting that a non-veteran should organize the parade, he said.

"The more people I talked to, the more I realized it shouldn't be the vets putting on a parade anyway," Applebee said. "It should be the community doing it for them."

Veterans Day parades are often held on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, but this one will start at 1 p.m. so it doesn't conflict with ceremonies already planned by the Florence Elks Lodge.

So far there are a dozen entries, about what parade organizers expected, given how quickly it came together. There's still time to squeeze in an entry. Anyone interested can just show up at the staging area at Second and Ivy streets and sign up there.

The entrant must show proof of vehicle insurance (if the entry is a vehicle), and no commercial floats are allowed.

`We tell people down in California when we're traveling that we're from Florence, and they say `Oh, that's the town that always has the flags up,' ' said Glenn Neklason, another veteran and parade organizer. `It's nice to be able to say `Thank you for your service.' '

Winston Ross can be reached at (541) 902-9030 or rgcoast@oregonfast.net.

VETERANS DAY PARADE Where: Begins at Second and Ivy streets, goes along Bay Street to the Port of Siuslaw parking lot Time: 1 p.m. Information: Cal Applebee, (541) 997-8417
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Title Annotation:Holidays; A newcomer and a vet spur Florence's first parade to honor war sacrifices
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Nov 11, 2006
Words:549
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