'United We Stand', this year's theme
Given the earth-shattering events of the past year, this year's Star Spangled Spectacular will bear added significance for all involved, particularly those who have displayed their love of country by defending it.
With this, the decided theme of this year's celebration is 'United We Stand,' celebrating the bravery of our veterans, the strength of our nation, and the diversity of Storm Lake. Among the numerous events at this year's Spectacular, strongly emphasized will be this year's patriotic ceremony.
This ceremony's featured speaker will be Iowa Senator Tom Harkin. A Navy veteran who served as a jet pilot on active duty from 1962 to 1967, Harkin frequently supports veterans' rights. Aside from having served in the U.S. armed forces, Harkin also exposed the nation to the infamous Vietnamese 'Tiger Cages' when visiting a South Vietnamese prison camp at Con Son Island in 1967. Harkin's actions resulted in the release of hundreds of tortured political prisoners.
During the ceremony, Harkin will speak to the estimated 400 veterans who will be treated as guests of honor throughout the day. The ceremony will also feature a blessing by Rev. Duane Queen, a 21-gun salute and color guard by AmVets, and music by The Hecht Brothers.
Among the changes of this year's ceremony, located in the northwest corner of Chautauqua Park, will be the addition of a stage to the area. The ceremony has also been moved to 9:30 a.m., one hour before the parade in order to avoid less distraction from other ongoing activities in the Chautauqua Park area. Chairs will also be provided for attending veterans.
The patriotic ceremony is part of this year's effort in honoring those who have served. The first 400 veterans arriving to the patriotic ceremony will receive a patriotic 'United We Stand' ribbon, marking them as distinguished guests of honor, and a group of 35 veterans, five from each of seven towns throughout Buena Vista county, will serve as grand marshals in the Spectacular parade.