POINT PLEASANT — This weekend’s Memorial Day Parade in downtown Point Pleasant honored both the fallen and the tragically lost.
Though Memorial Day Parades are typically meant to honor fallen veterans, there were several parade participants who were not only honoring the memory of a daughter and friend lost but trying to raise awareness of drunk driving.
Friends of the late Andrea Bailes, a 14-year old student at PPJ/SHS killed by a drunk driver in 2011, showed solidarity for their friend by dressing in matching t-shirts and passing out literature on Mothers Against Drunk Driving West Virginia. Andrea’s “troops” on the ground walked into the crowd to pass out the literature, while others rode on a parade float promoting awareness of tougher drunk driving laws.
Andrea’s “ground troops” were also passing out an invitation to an assembly held on Sunday at PPJ/SHS. The assembly was on drinking and driving and how the proposed “Andrea’s Law” can make a difference. The speakers were Paul Sheets, who was hit by the drunk driver that killed Andrea, as well as Jessica McCoy, Katherine Deem and Alexis Meadows who were all personal friends of Andrea.
Delegate Brian Savilla was the guest speaker. Savilla created Andrea’s Law, which if passed, will toughen the penalties of the current drunk driving law.
The parade also featured the Mason Gallia Meigs Marine Corps League leading off the parade, followed by several campaigners, pageant winners, 4-H members and even representatives from the Shawnee Nation.
The parade was organized by the AMVETs Mason County Post 2.
Immediately following the parade there was a short memorial service at Medal of Honor Park. The AMVETS post is responsible for placing the crosses and flags in the park to honor those who have fallen in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Originally called Decoration Day, Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868 by Gen. John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11, and was first observed on May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.
More parade photos on page A3.