Mother Nature has been kind to The American Legion the past few years.
Starting in Reno, Nev., in 2007, temperatures have been bearable during the annual parade. The lone exception, Phoenix, didn't matter because the event took place inside. But in every other city every other year, parade Sunday featured a dip in the normal late-summer heat.
That was the case again Aug. 26 in Indianapolis during the 94th National Convention parade. Indianapolis had been hit with three straight days of 90-degree heat, but at the start of the parade the temperature was at a tolerable 80. It moved up and down between 80 and 84 during the event, and though the air did feel humid at times, participants admitted it could have been a lot worse.
"It was hot when we left Montana, and it was even hotter when we got (to Indianapolis)," said Department of Montana Commander Jim Carlisle. "I'll tell you that right now, this is actually pretty nice. And when we get a bit of that breeze, it's really nice."
The American Legion Riders once again led off the parade, which featured every Legion department, as well as American Legion 2012 National champs the Band of the Tonawandas, local high school marching bands, the Budweiser Clydesdales, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Motorcycle Drill Team and the Indiana National Guard's 38th Infantry Division Band.
Major Gen. R. Martin Umbarger, adjutant general of the Indiana National Guard, served as grand marshal of the parade, while immediate Past National Commander Jimmie Foster was honorary grand marshal.
Phil Hearlson, a past department commander from Florida and a participant in "a number" of parades, said the same thing keeps bringing him back to march.
"I think we need to say thank you to our veterans – past, present and future," he said. "That's what we've been doing for 94 years. A lot of the younger generation doesn't really know what we do, so it's good that we get out here and promote The American Legion and our mission."
Meanwhile, Carlisle also has another reason for marching in the parade. "To see if I can get to the end of it," he said with a laugh. "But sometimes that's not very funny."