Parade set for Saturday

Published 11:00 pm Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Freddie Turner will take the seat of honor at the Independence Day Parade in Brundidge Saturday.

Turner has been named the grand marshal of the annual parade that celebrates the birth of the United States of America and the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that are shared by all Americans.

Turner said that being named grand marshal of the Independence Day Parade was more than an honor.

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“It’s more than I deserve,” he said. “I’m humbled by this honor. There are so many that are more deserving than me, so many that I honor and respect. Men like Emmett Boutwell and Pid Steed. They are heroes to me.”

Turner, an active member of VFW Post 7055 and American Legion Post 70, is most at ease when he is honoring America’s veterans. Being parade grand marshal is a new experience but one that he will cherish.

“I’m one of the lucky ones,” he said. “I came home. The real heroes of any war are those who didn’t come home to their families. They are the heroes.”

Turner joined the U.S. Army in 1966 and served a year in Vietnam as a medic at an evacuation hospital in Long Bien.

“It was a 500-bed hospital and it was tough seeing men severely burned and with their limbs blown off,” he said. “But you couldn’t let it sink in. You had a job to do. When it got so bad, I’d go off and pray and have a good cry and get back up and go again.”

Turner later served on military ambulance trains in Germany. The train transported wounded soldiers and widows of soldiers who had died in service to their country.

“There was a lot of grieving on those trains,” Turner said. “A lot physical pain and emotional pain.”

Turner said he can still feel the rumble and clatter of those six- and eight-car ambulance trains. Those are memories that die hard, he said.

Turner was on active duty with the Army for three years. He came home and waited 13 years to join the Alabama National Guard. He served with the Guard in Al Dammam during Operation Desert Storm.

Turner made the military his career when he went active duty with the Guard as a logistics supply sergeant. He retired after 22 years.

Dorthea Dow, Brundidge Business Association president, said the BBA, which sponsors the Independence Day parade, wanted to honor Turner for his military service and as “one of the most patriotic people anywhere.”

Turner said he honors and respects all of America’s men and women who have served their country and those who continue to serve.

“It’s also an obligation,” he said. “If we don’t honor and respect our veterans and our country, who will?

“It concerns me that many of our young people don’t have the same patriotic spirit that we – the older generation – do. We must stay patriotic and believe in our country. Other than the Good Lord, what do our children and grandchildren have to look forward to if we give up on our country. What would our future be? God and country are the best hope for our country. We must never forget that.”

The Independence Day Parade in Brundidge will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday and follow a Main Street route. Parade lineup is at 8 a.m. at the National Guard armory. Pre-registration is not required. Those who would like to parade are encouraged to come and join the fun.