Mid-Columbia's Veterans Day festivities include big parade

West Richland's annual Veterans Day Parade starts at 9:30 a.m. Saturday with an anticipated 100 entries, including local military youth groups and bands.

John Lee, the Washington state director of Veterans Affairs, will be the grand marshal.

A Vietnam War veteran and retired Army command sergeant major, Lee was appointed in November 2005 by Gov. Chris Gregoire. His responsibilities as agency director include advocacy and outreach for the more than 670,000 veterans in the state and their families, in addition to overseeing three veterans homes throughout Washington.

The U.S. and state Veterans Affairs departments have designated the West Richland event as a Veterans Day Regional Site.

The annual parade, which goes along West Van Giesen Street, is organized by the West Richland Area Chamber of Commerce. A chili feed, sponsored by Combat Veterans International, will follow at the Flat Top Park pavilion.

Other Veterans Day events include:

-- A compilation of more than 2,000 photos tells stories of war and home from a soldier's perspective in an exhibit opening Wednesday at Washington State University Tri-Cities.

The exhibit of photos and words by Iraq and Afghanistan veterans called "Life After War: Soldiers' Stories" opens during a Veterans Day ceremony at 4 p.m. at the Richland campus.

A veterans resource fair also is planned starting at 3 p.m. Both are in the West Building Atrium, 2710 Crimson Way.

Admission is free and the exhibit is open through Nov. 22 during building hours, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays.

The number of veterans enrolled at WSU Tri-Cities has grown from 36 in 2007 to this year's 115. Veterans now make up 7 percent of the student body.

-- The Army Corps of Engineers will waive day-use fees for veterans, active and reserve service members and their families at Corps recreation areas on Veterans Day.

The fee waiver covers boat launch ramp and beach fees. It does not apply to camping and camping-related services. To find Corps recreation areas, go to corpslakes.usace.army.mil/visitors/states.cfm?state=WA.

-- Students and staff of Jason Lee Elementary School in Richland are inviting veterans and their spouses to participate in a Veterans Day assembly at 9:15 am. Wednesday.

Veterans attending are asked to wear their uniforms and to arrive between 8:30 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. to sign in, have their pictures taken and enjoy coffee and donuts. For more information, call 967-6475. The school is at 1750 McMurray St.

-- Many schools in the Tri-Cities will hold Veterans Day events next week. There are too many events to list here.

Here's how to find out what's happening at your child's school:

In Kennewick, there is a celebration at Highlands Middle School featuring a speaker from the National Guard. In addition, elementary schools will hold musical tributes, said district spokeswoman Lorraine Cooper.

For Richland events, go to rsd.edu and click on the link in the middle of the home page.

For Pasco events, go to psd1.org and look under "Upcoming" in the left column.

-- A flag that organizers say is the second-largest in the area will be hoisted in a special event at noon Thursday at 102 N. First Ave., in Mesa.

The national flag in question measures 20-by-30 feet, said Charles Grimm, owner of JC's Mesa Grocery, the store in front of which the flag will fly.

The flag will be attached to an 80-foot pole, one of the tallest in the area.

The ceremony will include a brief presentation on the history of the national flag and music by the Connell High School brass band.

-- Orchard House in Grandview invites veterans to attend a Veterans Day celebration from noon to 1 p.m. Thursday.

Orchard House, a senior living community, will provide a free lunch to local veterans and their families. The home is at 2001 W. Fifth St., near West Fifth Street and Butternut.

For more information, call 509-882-4400 or go online to alcco.com.

w A celebration of the Marine Corps' 235th birthday will begin at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Kimo's, 2696 N. Columbia Center Blvd. There will be games, cake and giveaways. For more information, call Lori Loghry at 222-9436.

-- The Tri-Cities Elks Lodge No. 2755 will hold a veterans appreciation dinner starting at 5:30 p.m. Friday at the lodge, 15 S. Colorado St., Kennewick.

Dinner is free to veterans or $7 for others and is open to all ages. A short commemorative program will follow the dinner.

For reservations, call 735-6035, or e-mail to elks2755@frontier.com.

-- Walla Walla University is sponsoring a special Veterans Day celebration at 11 a.m. Tuesday in the University Church. The Veterans Association of Walla Walla University plans patriotic music and special speaker Chaplain Peter Beck The public is welcome.