AP NEWS

Sun City Poms march to honor veterans

November 10, 2016 GMT

The Sun City Poms are preparing to represent the Northwest Valley at the 20th Annual Phoenix Veterans Day Parade this Friday.

The event starts at 11 a.m. Friday at Montebello and Central avenues and runs southbound, then turns east on Camelback Road, and back south on Seventh Street before ending on Indian School Road.

This year’s theme is “Welcome Home Vietnam Heroes.” About 2,500 people will participate with floats, bands, marching units and more. Eight veteran grand marshals representing each era of military service from World War II to today will be there.

Poms Director Greta Paulsen has friends who served in Vietnam and said she thinks about the country’s heroes while she marches.

“They deserve all the respect,” Ms. Paulsen said. “They’ve earned it.”

World War I — known back then as “The Great War” — officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed June 28, 1919. However, fighting had ceased seven months earlier when an armistice between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. Now, Nov. 11, 1918 is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.”

The following year, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day. The original concept for the celebration was for a day observed with parades and public meetings and a short suspension of business beginning at 11 a.m.

The 15 to 20 Poms members participating in Friday’s event will dance to a military service song honoring the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. Pat Webber choreographed the routine, which includes parts of others they have done in the past.

“Many of the girls have personal stories,” Ms. Webber said. “For the Poms the Veterans Day Parade is a very significant one. They are all doing it to honor someone in their life.”

Ms. Webber’s brother participated in D-Day during World War II while her husband was in the Army during the Korean War. Luckily, Ms. Webber said, he did not have to serve in any wartime capacity.

The Poms have practiced for about a month and will fine tune their routine two more times before the parade. Ms. Webber used to march but physical limitations have relegated her to riding in the Pom’s car. In her stead are other women such as Ms. Paulsen.

“When I’m marching, doing the routines and seeing all the flags and the kids, I just have a terrific sense of gracefulness and pride for our country,” Ms. Paulsen said. “It’s a real honor to march in that parade. It’s very moving for me. I just love seeing all the young kids waving flags along the parade route. It’s pretty neat.”

Six-year Poms member Ruth Pharris will be one of two women carrying the group’s banner at the parade. The last two years she drove her companions in a shuttle to the start of the parade and then picked them up at the end. She marched with them her first four years before deciding to become a banner carrier.

“The veterans day parade is just a thrill of seeing all the veterans,” Ms. Pharris said. “The people carrying the banners are the first the people see so we have to be on and have a nice smile on our face.”

When she hears the word “veteran,” Ms. Pharris normally thinks of someone who was in the war but said that is not the case sometimes.

Her husband served in the Army, as well as her daughter-in-law in Colorado for six years. Her father was a pilot in the Army Air Corps in World War II. One of her cousins toured Vietnam three times.

“So it strikes close to home,” she said. “We’re a pretty patriotic family.”

Contact Chris Caraveo at ccaraveo@newszap.com or 623-876-2531.