Americans celebrated the end of World War II with the U.S. victory over Japan on Aug. 15, 1945.
Seventy-two years later, Seymour continues to honor WWII and other veterans with its annual V-J Day Parade.
Set for 1 p.m. Sunday, the parade will feature a variety of veterans organizations and community groups, marching units and floats.
Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1925 in Seymour organizes the parade but has seen a decline in participation and spectators in recent years.
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The focus and theme have changed some because many WWII veterans have died or are unable to attend due to their age or health.
With this in mind, the VFW made the parade about recognizing all veterans, said Steve Cox, president of the VFW Auxiliary.
“We continue to honor World War II veterans, but they are getting few and far between,” Cox said.
The parade is a tradition Cox wants to see continue for years to come. Although it’s not the only V-J Day Parade in the United States, it is believed to be the longest consecutive one conducted.
Some people have said the parade should stop because it is disrespectful toward Japanese families living in the community, but that is not the intent, Cox said.
“My grandson is a freshman at the high school, and the band director gave them the option of marching in the parade,” Cox said. “He came home and asked what VJ Day is. He had no idea.”
Bob Kinzie of the VFW also is involved in the parade and said it has “historical value.”
“It’s a way for kids to learn about World War II and for people to show their patriotism and respect for veterans,” he said. “We want to continue to honor World War II veterans for what they did for our country.”
Kinzie said the parade used to be “a big deal,” and he’d like to see it make the same impact now as it did then.
Those registered to be in the parade should meet in the Seymour High School parking lot at 12:30 p.m. The parade will begin at 1 p.m., proceed up West Second Street, make a left onto Walnut Street and then head west on Fifth Street and back to the high school.
Around 60 entries already have registered for Sunday’s parade, Cox said, and more may be added.
Registration the day of the parade will be from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the high school parking lot. A 21-gun salute and awards ceremony will take place after the parade at the VFW at 311 S. Jackson Park Drive. Food will be available for purchase from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m at the post. The public is welcome to attend.
This year’s parade marshal is John Topper, 76, of Santa Claus in Spencer County. He is a decorated combat veteran of the Vietnam and Persian Gulf wars and served in Europe during the second half of the Cold War.
He rose in rank to become a company commander, then a battalion commander and senior adviser to several different commands and is a member of the Infantry Officer Candidate School Hall of Fame.
His military honors include a Bronze Star for his heroism in an Oct. 12, 1967, battle. Just two weeks later, he was wounded in action and received a Purple Heart. He also earned his Combat Infantryman Badge, Combat Meritorious Service Award, Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster and several Air Medals while in Vietnam.
In 2015, he was inducted into the Indiana Military Veterans Hall of Fame.
What: 72nd annual V-J Day Parade, sponsored by Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1925
Where: Parade begins in the Seymour High School parking lot and will make its way east on West Second Street, turning left onto Walnut Street and then head west on Fifth Street back to the high school. An awards ceremony and a 21-gun salute will be conducted afterwards at the VFW, 311 S. Jackson Park Drive, Seymour.
When: 1 p.m. Sunday. Registration is from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the high school parking lot.
Grand marshal: Indiana Military Veterans Hall of Fame inductee John Topper, 76, of Santa Claus.