Vets band together for Patriot Days

KINGMAN - The month will see one of the county's biggest-ever outpourings of patriotism when the American Veterans Traveling Tribute, a three-quarter mobile replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, stops in Lake Havasu for 10 days beginning Sept. 15, in what's being hailed as the 1st Annual Patriot Days event.

But before the memorial reaches its final destination, its handlers plan to stop overnight in Kingman, which has prompted several local business owners and a slew of veterans' groups from around the county to launch their own Patriot Days event to honor the sacrifices made by local veterans.

"This program is not only the wall, but also to honor our local veterans," said Maggie Pozenel, owner of Heaven's Scent Florist and one of the event's three chairs, alongside Marvin Taylor of the Kingman Powerhouse Kiwanis and Erma Musick of Vic's Tease Shirts. "This is probably the first time in years all of these organizations have come together to make this a successful, honorable event for Kingman-area veterans and their fallen, and we've done everything we can to bring them all together.

"They have worked very cooperatively to make this a memorable event for Kingman."

The event will kick off at around 3 p.m. on Sept. 14 at Locomotive Park, where vendors will begin setting up for the day's festivities and entertainment will be provided by local singer Rosalie Carfield. The wall is expected to arrive in the Kingman area at about 5:30, coming from Golden Valley along State Route 68, taking interstate 40 to Andy Devine Avenue, and proceeding from there to Beale Street.

Once the wall has arrived at Beale and Sixth Street in downtown Kingman, a parade will escort the wall down Beale Street to Locomotive Park, where the actual Patriot Days program will commence at 6 p.m.

The program itself will kick off with the posting of colors by the Mohave County Sheriff's Office, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance led by American Legion Post No. 114 commander Rick Van Horn, then the singing of the national anthem by Carfield.

The Korean War Veterans Association of Mohave County will shift the colors to half-staff, with an opening prayer given by Jerry Ambrose, chaplain for the Marine Corps League Detachment 887 and VFW Post 3516. The Vietnam Veterans of America Associates Chapter 975 will perform the laying of a Vietnam wreath, then Vietnam veteran and Master of Ceremonies Bill Larsen will conduct the introduction of the day's speakers.

Speakers for the event will include all three local state legislators, Ron Gould, Nancy McLain and Doris Goodale, as well as Mohave County Dist. I Supervisor Gary Watson, Sheriff Tom Sheahan, Kingman Mayor John Salem, VVA Chapter 975 President Ralph McKie, American Legion Vice Commander Ann Seney, and Kingman Elks Lodge Veterans Chairman Jim Gaily.

Following the speakers, the parents of local fallen soldier Justin McNeley will be presented with a gold-plated dog tag in honor of their son's sacrifice, which they will place on a wreath to be added to the wall itself once it completes the journey to Lake Havasu. The U.S. Marine Corps League will then perform a 21-gun salute, followed by Taps from the Kingman Fire Department and a closing prayer by Russell Adkins, chaplain for VFW Post 10386.

The remainder of the evening will feature food and drinks, plus entertainment provided by the Kingman High School drumline and jazz band, the Kingman Center for Performing Arts, and the country and folk duo Aces, featuring Yvonne Kilby and Debbie Casson.

The wall itself will remain boxed up in Kingman for the night but will take off the following day, with a 9:30 a.m. send-off ceremony by Seney and members from American Legion Posts 14, 22, 88, 103 and 136.

In the meantime, spots are still open for vendors booths and parade entries. For more information, call (928) 715-4563.