As the bus carrying American Legion National Commander Charles E. Schmidt and other Legion family members pulled away from the Earl Scruggs Center, dozens of townsfolk gathered along the street to cheer and wave.
Such is the reaction after the Walk for Veterans, which the Legion family participated in Wednesday morning in Shelby, N.C. But it takes on a different tone in Shelby, hosts of the American Legion World Series.
“We love American Legion Baseball here in Shelby, it’s been an institution here for many, many years,” Shelby Mayor Stan Anthony said. “It’s amazing how this community comes together. Love to see all these veterans come together for this walk today. It’s an amazing event.”
Schmidt continued the walks that his predecessor, Dale Barnett, began during his term as national commander.
“Hopefully by marching around the beautiful city of Shelby this morning, we will raise awareness of every American that passes by,” Schmidt said before the walk, which took the throng of Legion family and friends from the Earl Scruggs Center — the former Cleveland County courthouse — and back.
“Let’s remember those who have served, those who are serving and those who will serve. Remember that with every step that you take this morning,” Schmidt added.
Anthony said the walk is “a lot of fun.”
“It’s a good opportunity to meet American Legion folks from all over the country,” he said.
It’s also an opportunity to spread the word about the Legion and the Legion family. Anthony noted that he found out he was eligible to join the Sons of The American Legion and plans to do so.
“I think it’s great to have the walk (here). Shelby has done a tremendous job of promoting and putting on the World Series,” Schmidt said afterward.
Wednesday morning’s walk isn't the only community event surrounding the 2017 ALWS. Tonight is the host city welcome, a gathering in Uptown Shelby with the eight teams being greeted by city officials and residents. The event’s schedule includes concerts from Summer Brooke and The Mountain Faith Band and Shelby native Caroline Allen, as well as a cornhole tournament among the ALWS teams.