This year will mark the 99th observance of Veterans Day in the United States, and the start of a new tradition in Mansfield as the city gathers for a Veterans Day Parade, an honor that’s been many years in the works.
Leading the charge is Sergeant First Class Daniel Kinnel, a 20- year veteran now working as the Mansfield High School Junior ROTC Army instructor. Kinnel has lived in Mansfield for more than a decade, and said he wanted to see an official ceremony honoring the National holiday in his hometown. He joined forces with the Mansfield American Legion Post, who has long advocated for an event but didn’t have the manpower to get it done. It hasn’t been easy, but they say it’s a cause they couldn’t let go.
“Mansfield has a lot of residents who have served our country,” Kinnel said. “I really think the parade is going to help bring the city closer together. There are veterans working for the schools, the city, as first responders, for private companies and of course retired. This event is a way for them to all come together, share that common bond and see how much the city appreciates their service.”
Texas has the second highest population of military veterans in the US with 1.6 million, and the Census estimates more than 4,000 of those are from Mansfield. Those tallies don’t, however, count the number of people connected to the service branches in another way; marriage, family, friend or patriot. In fact, it’s hard to find anyone, in Mansfield or beyond, who doesn’t have a very special devotion to the military and the sacrifice Veterans make on behalf of the country.
Mayor David Cook and Mansfield High School principal Jennifer Young were both early supporters of the project and helped get the ball rolling to involve other groups and city and school employees. Organizers say the strong community support and dedicated volunteers helped to turn their dream into reality.
“We’re all very excited to see it all come together,”Kinnel said. “The kids especially. They’ve worked really hard on this project but in turn, they’ve learned a lot about sacrifice and are finally getting a chance to give back.”
Scheduled participants for the parade include marching bands from Mansfield and Legacy high schools, as well as JROTC groups from all five MISD high schools. Other groups represented include the American Legion, all military branch local recruitment offices, veteran’s organizations, Mansfield ISD and the City of Mansfield, with Mayor David Cook, one of the project’s first big supporters, serving as the Grand Marshall.
“I am thrilled to be part of the inaugural Veterans Day Parade in Mansfield,” said Mayor David Cook. “I am committed to ensuring this parade to celebrate our veterans becomes a tradition in Mansfield. Events like this make Mansfield so special; a group of dedicated citizens coming together with Mansfield Churches FOR THE CITY to honor our veterans and our country. I’m proud to see this level of community involvement, and so happy the City of Mansfield and the Mansfield Independent School District are working together to make this parade a reality.”
The event will begin at 10 a.m. and make a loop from R.L. Anderson Stadium, east on Magnolia Street, south on Wisteria Street and then west on Broad Street past City Hall and the Public Safety Building to end up back at the stadium. Immediately following the parade, guests are invited to R. L. Anderson Stadium for an Honorary Salute, a concert of patriotic songs performed by Legacy High School Marching Band.
At 2 p.m. on Saturday, the Farr Best Theater in Historic Downtown Mansfield will be showing the film Top Gun. Tickets are $3 and can be purchased at the door starting at 1:15 p.m.
For more information, contact Sergeant First Class Daniel Kinnel at (817) 584-5997.