11-11-11: Veterans on Parade in Nashville, TN
November 11, 2016
NASHVILLE, Tenn (RFD-TV) Sgt. Bill Strunk rests his arm on the main “gun” of his one-half-size replica of an M48-A2 battle tank, an impressive reproduction of the actual tank in which he served as gunner some 58 years ago. The former armored infantryman spent six weeks constructing the float around a golf cart, using wood scraps, cardboard, chicken wire, pvc pipe, papier mâché, and whatever else he had available. On this day, he will ride it down Nashville, Tennessee’s own Broadway, as part of the annual Veterans Day Parade.
“A lot of people nowadays don’t know the history back then, but I’m sort of a history buff,” Strunk comments. When asked to explain why Veterans Day Parades traditionally start on the 11th hour, of the 11th day, in the 11th month, Strunk has an explanation at the ready. “That was the Armistice that was signed in a railroad car in France when the coalition beat Germany, after World War I.”
Regarding his own service record, Strunk relates: “I was farming in central Illinois after high school, with my father. Farming was classified 2-C. They were taking all 1-As in the draft, and then the 2-As. Then I got a letter that moved me up to 2-A, because they were using up all the draft personnel. So, rather than move into 1-A, a buddy and I signed up for the Army, in the six year reserve plan. That involved two years of active duty, two years on standby, and two years as inactive reserves. I spent 16 months in Germany with the 3rd Infantry Division, when they first brought out the colors, in 1957, ’58, and ’59.”
He continues, “I signed up in May and took a three month deferment to get the crops out of the field. Then I reported to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri for active duty on Labor Day weekend in 1957. We spent three or four days there, and then they loaded three busloads of us and took us to Fort Benning, Georgia overnight, and started building the 3rd Infantry Division as a new division – they reconstituted the colors into a new division to go over to Germany.”
Strunk is also a professed devotee of RFD-TV, which comes as no surprise, given his background in both agriculture and the military. “I like to watch AgPhD, Mollie B, and all the train shows,” he says.
Sgt. Strunk was joined in today’s parade by a multitude of other veterans, including a few from as far back as the Second World War, as well as law enforcement officers, firefighters, Civil War re-enactors, and an assortment of colorful and enthusiastic supporters.
As they marched along – or rode along, or rolled along, as the case may be – the crowds lining up and down Broadway waved flags, and many touching shouts of “Thank you!” were to be heard, as though in answer to Strunk’s own urging shortly before the procession began:
“Remember your veterans; that’s what this day is about.”