It was a simple question: When’s the parade?
For years, members of Gallatin American Legion Post 14 in Bozeman, Mont., had led an annual Memorial Day ceremony at an area cemetery. But in 2010, a local resident’s appetite for a bigger observance inspired them to restart a parade after a 30-year hiatus.
Post 14 Adjutant Mark “Randy” Kemp led the effort to resurrect and sponsor the event. Now, every Memorial Day, up to 10,000 onlookers jam the sidewalks, which are lined with 84 U.S. flags set up by post members earlier in the day.
“They are cheering and hats are coming off when the colors go by,” Kemp says. “It’s changed the community’s patriotism ... 5- and 6-year-old children seeing their dads with their hands over their hearts as the flag goes by, or saluting the flags or taking their caps off. That’s telling these kids that this is a special day. And Memorial Day is a special day.”
Meanwhile, Post 14 continues to organize the Memorial Day ceremony, in addition to placing 2,500 flags at veterans’ gravesites.
“I knew a lot of those veterans,” says Kemp, a Bozeman native. “I grew up with some of them. Those men and women who have passed on before me – that’s what makes me want to continue to do this. I’m doing it for them.”
Branch of service Army (1971-1995)
Military job Military police
Rank Master sergeant
American Legion post Gallatin Post 14, Bozeman, Mont.
Years in the Legion 19
- Post adjutant (2009-present)
- District adjutant (2013-2015)
- District vice commander (2015-2016)
- District commander (2016-present)
- Department Children & Youth chairman (2013-2014)
- Department convention chairman (2013-2014, 2015-2016)
- Department sergeant-at-arms (2012-2013)
- National Membership & Post Activities Committee member (2011-2014)