Mother Nature wasn’t very kind to The American Legion the last time it hosted a national convention in Charlotte. In 2002, a steady downpour eventually canceled the annual parade about midway through the event.
It was a different story this year. After the previous day’s temps had soared into the 90s, a cold front dropped the temperature to 78 when the parade got underway Aug. 24 in downtown Charlotte. Even better, the humidity was only at 61 percent, and clouds kept the sun hidden for most of the day.
“This is great, and the breeze helps,” said Wisconsin National Executive Committeeman Dave Gough, who marched with his department’s delegation more than nine blocks down Tryon Street, which was lined with Legion family members and Charlotte residents. “It’s warmer than I’m used to, but I know it could be a lot worse.
“And, I went through a lot worse last week,” added Gough, who rode into Charlotte on the Legacy Run, which saw a mix of heavy rain and temperatures in the 90s.
The American Legion Riders again led off the parade, which featured retired Navy Capt. Terry A. Bragg as grand marshal and Past National Commander Jim Koutz as honorary grand marshal. All 55 departments followed, as did past national commanders, American Legion Auxiliary and Sons of The American Legion, Legion and high school bands, and other dignitaries.
Marching with the Department of Colorado was immediate Past Department Commander Carol Kennedy – along with members of the Auxiliary, SAL and Legion Riders. “It’s an honor to be out here and be a part of veterans helping veterans,” Kennedy said. “And you can see that we truly are a Legion family.”
Ronnie and Karen Foster of Charlotte got to the parade 20 minutes before it started to get a good spot near the reviewing stand. With them was their son, 7-month-old Brody. They were there to watch their daughter, Lyzette Rasmussen, march with the David W. Butler High School band from nearby Matthews, N.C. And both Karen and Ronnie have relatives who are members of the Legion in Charlotte.
“We were pretty glad to get a break in the weather,” Ronnie said.
Also there watching the parade was 28-year-old North Carolina resident Nicholas Smith, who stood along the street and saluted the colors as each delegation passed. “I just have so much respect for those who have served, and I wanted to show that respect,” Smith said.