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West Memphis revives Veterans Day parade after 50 years without, honors fallen soldier

West Memphis held its first Veterans Day parade in more than 50 years on Thursday.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — For more than 50 years, West Memphis went without a Veterans Day parade. That changed Thursday.

A parade set out from the parking lot of Lehr Arena at 10 a.m., heading down Broadway Avenue to the end at the VFW on South Avalon. A memorial service was held at the VFW following the parade at 11:11 a.m.

Jim Fiveash, the Commander of the West Memphis American Legion Post 53, fought through tears speaking of the revived event.

“Being one of the Vietnam veterans, disrespected when I came home, this is everything," he said.

The effort to bring a parade back to West Memphis was formed by a group apart of a community veterans committee.

“Our older veterans are dying off," committee member, Lance Bell, said. "We haven’t gotten to thank them or send them off properly. I think it’s a great way to give back to those people who have stood on the frontlines paid a price whatever price it was so we can have our freedoms today.”

The West Memphis community recently experienced what it means to pay the ultimate price.

SSgt Taylor Hoover, who originally was from West Memphis native, was killed in August during a bombing attack outside of the Kabul airport during the United States withdrawal from Afghanistan.

“It’s an overwhelming feeling: the gratitude, thankfulness, humbleness," Bell said. "We’ve had one event for him here and I think having the parade come back in the first 50 years, it’s kind of the ultimate way we can honor them.”

RELATED: West Memphis names August 26th as Staff Sergeant Taylor Hoover Day in honor of Marine killed in Kabul

Hoover's family members will serve as the parade's grand marshal.

His mother, Kelly Barnett, said the day meant a lot to her. 

“It’s heartwarming to know that the people, this town, the people that have always lived here, they didn’t know Taylor but they’ve shown love to me and my family and it’s great," she said. "It’s amazing."

Barnett said her grandfathers were in WWII and were in West Memphis the last time a Veteran's Day parade was held.

RELATED: Marine killed in Afghanistan with Mid-South ties being remembered locally

"Not only for my son but for them, it's an amazing feeling," she said. "I'm so proud of my son and so proud of my grandfathers.

She described her son as a kind, loving person and a dedicated Marine.

"He was a hardcore Marine, his Marines will tell you that but I want everyone to know how much he loved people," she said. "He loved his family, of course. He loved the Lord, his family, he loved the United States, he loved people. That's what I want people to remember is that everything he did, was for that. For us."

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