Five-year-old Charlie Shiver was more interested in playing with the small paper plane handed out from the Carrabelle-Thompson Airport’s courtesy car than eating candy thrown from the many floats.
Under the watchful eyes of their dad, James Shiver, Charlie and little sister Carolina were busy scooping up goodies tossed from the annual Camp Gordon Johnston parade Saturday morning, as it wove triumphantly through Carrabelle.
“It’s an air-o-plane that runs with a propeller,” he said. “It makes the air-o-plane fly.
“The propeller spins around and around and around,” Charlie said, demonstrating with his index finger how the plastic prop twirled around. “And there’s pieces to build it, and windows for you to see through, and human people inside.”
Seventy-two years before Charlie was born, World War II came to a close, and the last flickers of the lives of veterans from that war, like Charlie’s great-grandfather John Gilbert, are going out.
Gilbert, grandfather of Charlie’s mother, Amy Shiver, had been among the thousands of men who trained during the war at Carrabelle’s Camp Gordon Johnston, in preparation for an amphibious assault on the beaches of Normandy, and on the islands of the Pacific.
Gilbert passed away three years ago, at the age of 99, when Charlie Shiver was just 18 months old.
The senior-most participants in this year’s parade, one of the longest in recent years, were Korean War veterans, such as retired Navy Lt. Cmdr. Herman “Hank” Butler, Jr. who served as grand marshal. Also honored was Bob Dietz, who as a young man enlisted in the military in the waning days before World War II came to a close.
Korean War vets, from such places as VFW Post #4528 out of Crawfordville, and the Branch 34 Fleet Reserve out of Tallahassee, took part in the parade, which over its 27-year history, has broadened its focus to include all those who served in the military.
Motorcycle units, many driven by Vietnam vets or sons of World War II vets, took part in the parade, along with little beauty queens, the Lofty Pursuit marching band from Tallahassee, local elected officials as well as State Sen. Loranne Ausley, Shriners and various non-profit organizations.
One such group that came to support this celebration of the military was the 8th Fl. Quincy Young Guards Camp 703 Sons of Confederate Veterans, led by Lee Norris, the unit’s commander.
Norris said he is descended from 33 Confederate soldiers, and the third great-grandson of four such veterans who served the Confederate States of America.
His wife, Vicki, said she is a member of both the Daughters of the American Revolution, and the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
“We’re here because this is a parade to honor all veterans,” said Lee Norris, proudly displaying what is commonly called the “stars-and-bars” and noting the distinction he makes, that “this was nothing else but a soldier’s flag.
“It’s in my blood,” he said, stressing the fight more than 150 years ago was about soldiers’ loyalty to their native Dixie and the preservation of states’ rights.
“They didn’t fight for no (right to own) slaves,” he said.