The Manatee County Veterans Day Parade is set to return this Saturday after a hiatus since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It starts at 9:30 a.m. at the Manatee County Fairgrounds located at 1402 14th Ave. W.
Giving the address will be Lee Washington, a Marine Corps veteran, who recently served as interim County Administrator for Manatee County Government. Before taking the interim administrator role, Washington was the director for the County’s Community and Veteran’s Services department.
Serving as grand marshal for the parade is Sergeant John V. Skeen, a World War II veteran.
Sgt. Skeen’s division, the “Trailblazers,” participated in the Aleutian Islands Pacific Campaign, a notable battle on North American soil during the war. He continued his service in various major European Campaigns across challenging terrains in Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, and France. Skeen was awarded a Purple Heart and Bronze Star for his bravery in combat, specifically for neutralizing a German machine gun bunker despite being wounded and later hit by shrapnel. He also received the Good Conduct medal and the Presidential Unit Citation Award for his heroism and service. Last year, Skeen was honored with a Congressional Veteran Commendation from Congressman Vern Buchanan.
In September, Manatee County recognized October 3, Skeen’s 105th birthday, as John Skeen Day. Commissioner Mike Rahn (District 4) said, “It’s a rare privilege this morning that I get to stand with a true American hero,” as he read the proclamation.
After accepting the proclamation, Sgt. Skeen stated, “I’d like to make one remark. I’m not deserving of this award . . . the men I saw who showed such bravery and courage down on the squad and platoon levels which never came to recognition. My heart just aches when I think of all the applause I get, and they have none. Thank you, though.”
The parade will begin at the fairgrounds and move towards Sutton Park located at 1036 6th St. W.