Vermont National Guard Spc. Jack Curtis, a member of the Honor Guard, shows Milton Boy Scout Nate Sheehan (left) how to properly fold a flag at the municipal complex last week in advance of the flag retirement ceremony, one event of many planned for the Scouting Salute to Veterans Parade. The daylong celebration will take place in Milton on Saturday, Nov. 3 and also serves as the kickoff of Milton’s 250th birthday. (Photo by Courtney Lamdin)

Milton will honor veterans in a big way this year.

Nearly 1,000 Boy and Girl Scouts will converge in Milton on November 3 for the annual Scouting Salute to Veterans Parade. The event is unique to Vermont, and in Milton, it will serve as the official kickoff for the town’s 250th birthday celebrations.

Since April, a dedicated committee, led by former Scoutmaster Mike Lane, has met weekly to coordinate the daylong event, which begins with a parade and includes an obstacle course and climbing wall, re-enactments, games and more, all at Milton’s recreation fields.

The parade is sponsored by the Green Mountain Council, which oversees all Boy Scout troops in Vermont. The parade started in 1999, after former Scout leader Peter Whitaker, a history teacher in Richmond, noticed students didn’t fully understand Veterans Day.

Each year, a different town hosts the event, which, since 9/11, was expanded to honor police, fire and rescue members, Lane said.

“Duty to your country is a key part of [Scouting], and citizenship is something we really strive to build within our Scouts,” Lane said, noting uniformed services share those same values. “There’s a lot of sacrifice that our veterans and our fire personnel and our police make every day, and recognizing that is important.”

Milton’s parade will be significant to many residents, said retired Army Col. Terry Lambert of Milton, who serves on the event committee: By his count, of Vermont’s 246 municipalities, Milton has the largest per capita share of military members. And in the latest deployment to Afghanistan in 2010, Milton tied with Burlington for the largest number of troops sent overseas.

The Scouting Salute will draw 908 Boy and Girl Scouts and their leaders, 250 Norwich University cadets and a dozen veteran groups, along with Masons, Gold Star families, a military honor guard and the 40th Army Band.

Lane said the group’s had great success with networking. The core 25 committee members include Fire/Rescue Chief Don Turner, volunteer extraordinaire George Caban, Gold Star and Scouting family Heather and Nathaniel Sheehan and Lambert.

Nate Sheehan, an MHS freshman whose father, Kevin, was killed in Iraq in May 2004, is also a member of Milton Troop 603. During an interview at the Milton Fire Station last week, Sheehan took a lead in helping fellow Scouts learn to fold flags for the flag retirement ceremony, slated for the day’s end.

Sheehan is looking forward to the event so Milton can show off its Scouting pride.

Members of the committee planning the November 3 Scouting Salute to Veterans Parade meet Thursday, Oct. 19 at the Milton Fire Station to discuss logistics and finals plans for the daylong event at Milton’s recreational fields. The day begins at 11 a.m. with a parade featuring almost 1,000 Boy and Girl Scouts from Vermont and continues into the afternoon with a variety of activities. The day also serves as the kickoff celebration of Milton’s 250th birthday. (Photo by Courtney Lamdin)

“It’s nice to get out there and say, ‘Hey, look at us. We can do this, and this is what it’s all about,’” he said.

Heather Sheehan said Milton is a “we’ve got your back” community, and that feeling extends to thanking people in uniform.

Caban, who met the Sheehans on his first Veterans Day in Milton 11 years ago and is a veteran himself, said he met a couple from Weston recently who had never heard of Milton. He thinks the parade and events will put Milton on the map.

Harry Barber, a Milton resident and veteran, will help Caban coordinate the events that day. Barber’s son, Austin, served in Afghanistan with the Vermont National Guard in 2010 and is also an Eagle Scout. He thinks Milton’s parade is an example that “we’re starting to take care of our veterans,” he said.

Police, fire and rescue aren’t recognized enough, Barber said.

“They just do their job quietly,” he said. “My hat’s off to those guys.”

Turner, who’s also serving as an honorary chairman with Lambert, thinks the parade will be a hit.

“We have a great community, and this will reflect the community’s feelings about the veterans,” he said.

For more information, click on www.milton250.org, the official Milton 250th Birthday website.

 

IF YOU GO
Milton’s Scouting Salute to Veterans Parade offers a day full of activities. Here’s the schedule so far:

  • 8:30 – 9:30 a.m. – Dignitary breakfast (invitation only), Eagles Club, Centre Dr.
  • 11 a.m. – Parade start, Milton Elementary School. Route is the same for 4th of July: Herrick Avenue to Barnum Street to Route 7 to Middle Road to Bombardier Road. Ends at Park Place.
  • Noon – Ceremony, Park Place
  • 12:30 p.m. Lunch available from various vendors
  • 1 – 3 p.m. – Activities, including National Guard obstacle course and climbing wall, football toss, re-enactments (to be announced), card-making and goods collection for vets. See milton250.org for a list of wanted items.
  • 3 – 4 p.m. – Flag retirement ceremony: Collect your worn flags for a Boy Scout retirement ceremony in the park.

Editor’s note: The original version of this story, posted October 25, included an incorrect parade route. Please note the parade begins at Herrick Avenue and goes to Barnum Street, not School Street, as was published in the Independent and on the Green Mountain Council website. See you there on Saturday!