Preston Hollow People: Called to Serve Those Who Served

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Called to Serve Those Who Served
Solemene wants veterans to get deserved salute

By Margaux Anbouba

About 15 years ago, Lt. Col. Bill Solemene noticed that something was missing every Nov. 11 in Dallas — a Veterans Day parade.

"We realized 50 years had gone by without the city of Dallas having a parade," said Solemene, a Preston Hollow resident. "The gentlemen from City Council and some military men got together and decided that we needed a parade for Dallas. We started then and built it up to what it is now."

This year, some of the patriotic activities will include an Oath of Enlistment ceremony, during which Congressman Sam Johnson will swear in more than 150 enlistees; a wreath laying; a flyover in the missing man formation; and the parade itself, which will feature moren than 150 military-related clubs.

While all those who have served our country are being honored at the event, a special tribute is being paid to the veterans and prisoners of war from the Vietnam era.

"This year, the parade is honoring POWs, and I was one, and this happens to be our 40th year of freedom," said Col. Bernard Talley, one of the parade's grand marshals along with Col. Charles DeBellevue. "However, the most important honor at the parade is our missing in action and killed in action, they are the real heroes and haven't had the opportunity to enjoy the spoils that we have."

Solemene, who chaired the 2003 edition of the parade, is again in charge of underwriting and public relations this year. Like clockwork, he contacts media outlets each fall to drum up interest.

"My involvement in the Veterans Day parade is a volunteership of love," he said. "I flew and served, but I'm not a hero. To be an ace or POW for six or seven years, that's amazing.

"The American public did not embrace soldiers when they came back from Vietnam, so we think it's important to honor the veteans and their families for their dedication and sacrifices that they have made — some of them, the ultimate sacrifice."