Huge Lynn parade planned to celebrate veterans Sept. 22

LYNN – In just under six weeks, Lynn will see what is shaping up to be the North Shore?s biggest ever Veterans Appreciation Parade.More than 2,000 people marching in nine divisions, many bands and color guard units and special guests including Gold Star Families ? those who have lost a loved one in military service – are expected to participate.The parade comes on the heels of the first Veterans Appreciation Parade in the area, in Swampscott in June 2011.?We said if that was successful, we would do two more, one in the City of Lynn and the third, to be held down the line in the Town of Saugus,” said Parade Committee Chairman John Sacherski, commander of VFW Post 1240 in Swampscott.Sacherski, along with Lynn Veterans Agent Michael Sweeney and Lynn Veterans Appreciation Parade Grand Marshal David Solimine Sr., visited The Item on Friday to discuss the final preparations and to make a final appeal for support.?The reason for the parade is to show appreciation for all veterans from World War II to the present day,” Sacherski said, noting the parade has been planned for Sunday, Sept. 22 because many bands and military units are committed elsewhere on Veterans Day in November and because prior to September, high school bands are not yet in session. “We also figure the weather would be perfect this time of year and it won?t be too hot for the people.”Moved to tearsSacherski, a Vietnam War veteran, spearheaded the drive for the initial Veterans Appreciation Parade – as well as the one next month in Lynn – an idea that came from a Stand Down for Homeless Veterans in Boston, annual events that connect homeless veterans with services and benefits that are due them.He said he recalls one year being moved to tears by a particular Vietnam veteran he encountered at a Stand Down in Roxbury.?He was a very thin, black kid, only about 110 pounds ? The kid?s got a Silver Star, a Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts, but when he came back from Vietnam he got into the drug business and he couldn?t get out of it. He had been missing for over 15 years, so I said to him, ?Tommy, why didn?t you go home [to your family]?. He said, ?I was too ashamed to go home.”Today, Sacherski said, that veteran has been clean for more than five years, put on 100 pounds and has all of his veterans benefits. He said he was discussing ?Tommy?s? story with a friend at the Stand Down, when the friend suggested he plan a parade to ensure veterans including those who have fallen on hard times get the recognition, thanks and welcome they deserve.?I said ?Ya know, I think I will,” Sacherski said, crediting Swamspcott Veterans Agent Jim Schultz for “helping one of the biggest parades the town of Swampscott had ever seen.?Jimmy Shultz was my inspiration to continue this effort to bring it to Lynn,” Sacherski said, adding the city and business community has been unwavering in its support.He said Sweeney, Sgt. Major Kenneth Oswald, USMC instructor of the Lynn English High School Junior ROTC, and Solimine and many others have worked tirelessly over the past 18 months to plan the Lynn parade.?The most important thing now is to get the word out,” Sacherski said. “As far as donations, we?ll accept any kind of donation because there are still things we?ll need to have like pizza, water, cookies?”Sweeney, who works daily to assist veterans from Lynn from his City Hall office, said the support for the parade has been phenomenal.?Anytime you honor veterans in this way, and honor their families – especially the Gold Star Families who have lost a son or a daughter, father or mother, or husband or wife in a war – whether you go back to the Vietnam War or World War II, in a real way you?re honoring the people who serve today by letting them know that their service isn?t going to be forgotten.”Sweeney added, “You can say ?Thank you for a your service? to a veteran, but if you don?t do anything to follow up on that ? something like this ? it doesn?t mean anything ? This really is the perfect publi

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