Harford Veterans Day events include parade, exhibits, ceremonies, speeches and more

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Harford County will hold a special observance in Bel Air to honor of the service of veterans to our country for Veterans Day 2011 which this year falls on 11-11-11.

A three-days of special events will run from Thursday through Saturday. There will be patriotic music, a parade, all kinds of exhibits geared to the young and old alike and many remembrances from and about Harford County men and women who have served our country.

Celebrating Harford Veterans is being coordinated by the Historical Society of Harford County.

"We're literally dressing uniforms on mannequins, but it's so cool," Director of the Harford County Historical Society Maryanna Skowronski said Wednesday of the chaotic atmosphere surrounding the celebration's final preparations. "We have uniforms from every branch of service, from four or five different wars."

The uniforms were loaned to the Historical Society for the celebration by several Harford County veterans and families of veterans.

"It's been amazing what people have brought in," Skowronski said, mentioning that they've received heirlooms from the Civil War, as well as Vietnam.

Carol Deibel, a former Bel Air town planning director who has help coordinate the celebration, said she hopes "people who served in the military in Harford County see just how much they're appreciated."

"It's an exciting program," Deibel said. "Something people will remember for a long time."

Thursday, Friday events

The celebration begins Thursday, with a wine and cheese reception with music provided by Duke Thompson of the Maryland Conservatory of Music. The event will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Reckord Armory, 37 N. Main St. in Bel Air.

On Veterans Day, Friday, a parade will take place in downtown Bel Air. The parade gets under way at 10 a.m. and will feature bands from Bel Air High School, C. Milton Wright High School, Joppatowne High School, John Carroll School, North Harford High School and Fallston High School.

Also marching in the parade will be color guard from the Marine Corps League, the Masonic Grand Lodge, the Bel Air Police Department, the Harford County Sheriff's Office, and the Sons of the American Revolution; veterans from all wars from World War II to the War Against Terror; and historic and active military vehicles.

According to the Bel Air Police Department, Main Street will be closed to traffic from Churchville Road to Lee Street after 9:30 a.m. for the parade, and detours will be in place. Other closures during the parade include Courtland Street at Bond Street, Pennsylvania Avenue at Main Street and Lee Street. The right turn lane from Churchville Road to South Main Street will be closed from 8:30 a.m. until approximately 10:30 a.m.

Following the parade, a special luncheon will be held at the Bel Air Reckord Armory. The luncheon is limited to 200 people and reservations are necessary.

Following the luncheon, a rededication ceremony will be held at the armory beginning at 2 p.m.

Bel Air Police said that the armory program will necessitate closing one lane on Main Street; one lane will remain open to traffic during those activities.

The Bel Air Reckord Armory, built in 1915, is named in honor of World War I and World War II hero Gen. Milton Reckord, a Harford County native. The Armory will be open from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. to view a number of exhibits that will include uniforms, maps, photographs and memorabilia from each major conflict involving Harford County residents since the American Revolution.

According to the event website, many of these items have never been exhibited to the public. Some items of special interest include a copy of the Bush Declaration, watercolor maps produced by French troops during the Revolution, a preview of exhibit materials developed for next year's War of 1812 exhibition, photographs of Aberdeen Proving Ground and Edgewood Arsenal's development and much more.

Harford County government offices will be closed Friday in observance of Veterans Day. Some road closures and detours are expected in the downtown Bel Air area to accommodate Friday's parade.

Much to see Saturday

Concluding the three-day event will be a variety of military displays and patriotic music performed Saturday by the Bel Air Community Band at the Liriodendron Mansion, 502 W. Gordon St. The Saturday program will begin at 9:30 a.m. and conclude at 1 p.m. Tours of Liriodendron will also be available.

Clerk of the Circuit Court Jim Reilly and County Councilman "Capt'n" Jim McMahan, who are co-chairs of Saturday's events, have planned a day of tributes and memories, one that they say promises to be of special interest to young people.

"Saturday is really for the young patriots of tomorrow with lots of 'Army stuff' for the kids to climb on at Liriodendron," Reilly said. "The Maryland Army National Guard will even fly in a Blackhawk helicopter for the event."

There will be an assortment of army vehicles plus a rock climbing wall set up by the National Guard. McMahan said Aberdeen Proving Ground will bring some of their latest war fighting vehicles to the show.

Among other displays will be local veterans showing off their collectibles. Sgt. Roy Clark of Forest Hill will have his vintage jeep on display. Another collector will bring a popular "deuce and a half" truck. Several vets will bring their treasure trove of military souvenirs that every kid loves to touch and feel.

"Mess kits, canteens, sleeping bags, vintage weapons and uniforms will all be part of the veteran's display table," McMahan said.

In addition, tables offering information from the Historical Society of Harford County, the Marine Corps League, the APG Museum and the Aberdeen Military Museum Foundation will be on site.

Several Commercial vendors will be on location, as well, including Maryland Quartermaster, a public safety supply house as well as the ARC of Northern Maryland. Three local car dealerships, each showing a red, white and blue vehicle, will add some theme color to the event.

At 10:20 a.m. Saturday, a Memorial Ceremony will begin with a combined color guard and 20 VIP veterans, including two in their 90s who took part in World War II.

The Bel Air Community Chorus will sing patriotic songs during the ceremony, which will end with a Honor Guard from the Maryland Society Sons of the American Revolution firing three volleys from their muskets, followed by the playing of taps.

A unique display of local Native American artifacts will be on display, with docents to explain the customs of the Native Americans who once lived along the APG peninsula

"Saturday should be a day for the kids to get a taste of the military experience" Reilly said.

The Liriodendron grounds open at 9:30 a.m., with plenty of free parking on the West Broadway extended lot, and free shuttle bus service is available up the hill to the mansion. Pit beef will be available for visitors.

McMahan also said a Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company truck will be on the grounds for the helicopter landing, and Fallston Volunteer Fire Company EMTs will provide safety services to visitors, and members of the Bel Air Police Auxiliary will be to help out as well.

For more information on Celebrating Harford Veterans activities in Bel Air Thursday, Friday and Saturday, luncheon reservations for Friday at the armory or to make a donation, go to http://www.celebratingharfordveterans.org or call the Historical Society at 410-638-7691.

Other observances

The cities of Aberdeen and Havre de Grace also are gearing up for two Veterans Day events Friday.

Both cities will hold ceremonies at 11 a.m. Friday.

Havre de Grace will hold graveside services in local cemeteries before the ceremony which will take place in Millard Tydings Park.

Aberdeen will have its ceremony at the Veterans Monument on the corner of Parke and Rogers streets.

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