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May 19, 2013

New Albany, Jeffersonville celebrate Armed Forces Day

Events hosted to thank vets and draw attention to those in need

> SOUTHERN INDIANA —  While a group of motorcycle riders, many of whom are veterans, took to the streets of New Albany to mark Armed Forces Day, a collection of groups offering assistance to former members of the military hosted a Stand Down event in Jeffersonville.

Both events are in their first year and are designed to bring assistance and awareness to veterans in Southern Indiana.

Don Harshey was asked by members of New Albany’s Bicentennial Committee to help organize an event in the city to mark Armed Forces Day.

Harshey, a Vietnam veteran, contacted the American Legion Riders Chapter 28 and came up with the idea of having a motorcycle ride trough New Albany. He said the Legion Riders helped put the Thunder through New Albany event together that rolled out from the waterfront at 11:30 a.m.

The motorcycle parade of about 60 to 70 riders took a 30- to 40-mile route through the city which passed a number of veterans markers, including memorials, and the New Albany National Cemetery along the way.

After the parade the American Legion post hosted a reception at the Floyd County 4-H Fairgrounds complete with an appreciation ceremony, memorabilia on display and were collecting for the Veterans Affairs Patient Comfort Item Fund.

The items collected will go to benefit the VA Medical Center in Louisville, and provide basic need items like a toothbrush, razor, shampoo and other personal items. In addition, donations of household items are used to benefit a partnership between the VA and the Department of Housing and Urban Development that assists homeless veterans find apartments or homes.

Again, it provides basic items like linens, dishes, utensils, cookware and cleaning supplies.

Harshey said in conjunction with the New Albany Bicentennial Committee the purpose of the event was to show an appreciation for U.S. military veterans, at the end of Armed Forces week.

“Especially those who paid the ultimate price, that’s who we’re here to honor,” he said.

American Legion Chapter 28 -- which includes the Legionnaires (veterans); Auxiliary (spouses and female relatives of veterans); Sons (male relatives of veterans); and the Legion Riders — also used the event as an opportunity to host a special reception for a New Albany-based National Guard unit that recently returned from Afghanistan.

“This being Armed Forces Day, we thought it was the perfect time,” said Beverly Crump, community service organizer for the American Legion Auxiliary. “They’ve never had a reception for any of the National Guard units.”

She said the Military Police unit that is based in New Albany, and includes members from Ohio, Illinois and Michigan returned from Afghanistan in January.

“This is the first month that we’ve been able to host this reception for them,” Crump said. “It’s kind of a thank you for what you do. We just want to show the [people] that are actively serving how much we appreciate them serving our country and protecting us on a daily basis. [We’re] just kind of letting them know we’re there for them.”

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Bryden Stafford, 5, New Albany, takes aim at the pie throwing booth during the inaugural Back to School Block Party in front of the Ed Endres Boys and Girls Club along Ekin Avenue in New Albany on Wednesday afternoon. The event was put on by the Boys and Girls Club of Kentuckiana and the Floyd County Bar Association, and free school supplies were available, as well as refreshments, activities and games.

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