If you’re the only incorporated town in the entire country named “Patriot”, it’s only fitting that the 4th of July is a big deal.
And, for Switzerland County’s community of Patriot, last Saturday was, once again, a big deal.
Sponsored by the Patriot-Posey Park Board, the annual parade rolled from the boat ramp down Main Street under sunny skies and mild temperatures; and a big crowd came out to cheer on all the entrants.
The parade was led by Grand Marshal K.C. Banta, a career Navy veteran and former county commissioner here. He was joined by his wife of nearly 50 years, Barbara, at the front of the festivities.
There were plenty of other entries; ranging from fire trucks to farm equipment to children on decorated bicycles. Boy Scout Troop #700 had a float; as did the Patriot Baptist Church. North Bend Farms was represented with tractors of all sizes; and elected officials at the town, county, state, and national level were represented.
Following the parade, the crowd moved over to the Patriot Memorial Park, where the traditional program involves the official retiring of the old flags and the hoisting of new ones. Flag poles around the park depict all of the flags that have officially flown over this country; along with the flags representing each branch of the military.
Veterans in attendance and their families were invited to come and participate in the flag ceremony.
During the event, K.C. Banta was presented with a plaque, and was given the opportunity to speak to the crowd.
“Thank you all for your time, I’m going to make this short because it’s hot and most of you are standing,” Banta said. “We certainly appreciate you all being here. It’s an absolute honor to stand among these flags and what they represent. Sometimes we take our freedom for granted, and we should never do that. We should be flying these flags seven days a week, and under a light at night.
Banta told the crowd about the history of America and what all of that means to him.
“It’s been 239 years that we’ve been a free country, and in that time we’ve been involved in 34 wars or conflicts and have had to defend that freedom. Today, there are 1.8 million people serving in uniform; and 210,000 of them are women. Twenty years ago, that wouldn’t have been that high, just a small amount. 40 million have served in our history; and 1.2 million have died in uniform. That has to give you cold chills and give you a sense of pride in being Americans.”
Banta also pointed out his fellow veterans in attendance.
“I see these vets and people volunteering with the flags, and it didn’t take long to get enough volunteers to get the flags taken care of this morning,” Banta said.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, with new flags flying at the park and red, white, and blue balloons released in celebration; the crowd moved over to Harris Park, where a community picnic was held and the Community Band from Madison performed.