Veterans will march down Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach on Memorial Day, but it won’t be a parade.
The city is working with the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association to accommodate a march down Ocean Boulevard beginning at 9 a.m. May 25 from 16th Avenue North to the former Pavilion site between Eighth and Ninth avenues North.
Many veterans were upset when city officials announced they would move the parade to earlier in May, saying a Memorial Day parade should at least take place Memorial Day weekend.
“It’s a great compromise to acknowledge the veterans’ desire to recognize Memorial Day on Memorial Day,” city spokesman Mark Kruea said.
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Kruea said the compromise came out of an ongoing discussion with veterans who were upset about the date change. There will be no floats involved, he said.
Many veterans across the Grand Strand said they were upset by Myrtle Beach moving the Military Appreciation Days parade from the Saturday before Memorial Day – prompting World War II veteran Jack Platt to write a letter to The Sun News saying he would walk down Ocean Boulevard whether the city held a parade or not.
That letter gained the attention of veterans across the Grand Strand, including Julius Strickland, chapter secretary for the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association.
“A man wrote a letter saying that he would walk on Ocean Boulevard alone if he had to,” he said. “So I got in contact with him and said, ‘You’re not walking alone, we’ll walk with you.’ ”
Platt, a U.S. Navy veteran, said he was just the seed for the veterans group to go to the city and try to find a compromise.
“I’m humbled by all of them agreeing to go with me, and I’m really appreciative that the city is willing to let us do this,” he said. “Hopefully it brings the community together as well as the city.”
In September, city officials announced they would move the parade to May 16 because Myrtle Beach law enforcement will be consumed with managing crowds during Memorial Day weekend.
City officials also have said they moved it to accommodate Vietnam War veterans who requested the city honor the 50th anniversary of the war in conjunction with Armed Forces Day. Platt said he’s not sure that he’ll participate in this year’s Military Appreciation Days.
“The parade is for the Vietnam veterans commemorating the Vietnam War,” Platt said. “I would be delighted to participate, but that’s their date. The Vietnam anniversary is not the same as Memorial Day. The city tried to make it all in one, but it’s not.”
Strickland, a U.S. Army veteran, said instead of just showing up on Saturday and marching down Ocean Boulevard, the veterans decided to work with the city.
“There was a lot of animosity in the veterans community toward the city of Myrtle Beach when they said they were moving the parade,” Strickland said.
Platt, 87, organized an honor flight for World War II veterans to Washington, D.C., in 2008 and said he hopes the people on that list are able to attend the march with him.
“In 2008 I was able to get 80 World War II veterans together to march [in the Military Appreciation Days parade],” he said. “It’s been harder to do since then because we’re all getting so old.”
He said he is aware there is a segment of Grand Strand veterans who always felt a parade should have been held on Memorial Day instead of the Saturday before, but many believed that holding the event on the weekend would increase participation.
The city has held a Memorial Day service at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center for the past several years. Participants in the march are invited to attend the remembrance, which begins at 11 a.m.
Kruea said he is not sure how many veterans will show up to march on Memorial Day, as no registration is required.
He also said the Military Appreciation Days parade could return to the Saturday before Memorial Day next year, but if veterans still wanted to hold a march that Monday, the city would accommodate them.
“My goal is for the parade and picnic to move back to Memorial Day weekend next year,” he said.