Parades to honor Veterans Day have become a tradition across the country, and no one has been doing it longer than the people who live in McDowell County.
The Veterans Day Parade in Welch will march through town for the 104th time this year. The annual parade is the longest continually running Veterans Day Parade in the country. It’s one of the largest events in McDowell County, and serves to commemorate the service and sacrifice made for the United States.
Welch Mayor Harold McBride said holding the parade in McDowell makes sense as the county has the most veterans per capita in the state.
The parade ends in Welch in front of the large parking garage with performances and speeches. Steve Mooney is the Director of Operations for the West Virginia Department of Veterans Assistance and is the featured parade speaker.
Mooney, a retired U.S. Army Warrant Officer, oversees 14 benefits and claims offices, and a staff of 34, which include regional supervisors, veterans service officers and assistants. His department leads the state’s push to direct U.S. Veterans Affairs benefits and cash to West Virginia veterans.
Last year, West Virginia veterans received more than $2.5 billion in assistance.
“Despite the many changes Welch and McDowell county has seen in the past 104 years, our commitment in the area to respecting our military service in West Virginia, is a source of pride for me, and I hope it will continue indefinitely,” said American Legion Post 8 Commander Jan Williams. “I’m honored to lead the parade in 2022 and I look forward to attending the 105th celebration next year.”