Patriotism on parade

Fernley resident and Viet Nam war veteran Harry Wheeler watches the Veterans Day parade in Virginia City on Monday.

Fernley resident and Viet Nam war veteran Harry Wheeler watches the Veterans Day parade in Virginia City on Monday.

Paul Nye and Gary Lowry of Carson City sat in a Jeep bearing a sign telling Virginia City Veterans Day parade onlookers they’re proud members of the Marine Corps League.

Nye, senior vice commandant of the capital city’s Marine Corps League’s Silver State Detachment 630, had his wife, Rose, and daughter Michelle in the Jeep’s back seat as he sat at the wheel next to Lowry, the detachment’s junior vice commandant. All were resplendent in Veterans Day regalia from their detachment as the parade began Monday.

In front of the Jeep as they awaited the parade’s start was Gary Armstrong, the detachment’s commandant, talking with a man in Old West garb who was carrying a firearm of 19th century vintage. It was Chuck Baldauskas, aka Buffalo Bill, ready to lend ambiance to the event on C Street in the historic mining and 21st century tourist town that loves to parade whenever there is a rational or irrational excuse.

Not far ahead of the Carson City crew in the parade lineup was Floyd “Buddy” Seymour, a veteran of the Korean conflict sometimes known as the forgotten war. But Seymour, who headed from Virginia City to Korea in the early 1950s, has forgotten little about his time on the front lines in Korea. The Virginia City resident shared his feelings from a perch in another Jeep as the grand marshal of Monday’s parade.

He and his wife, Patricia, were a focal point of the event as driver Joe Curtis, a veteran of service and law enforcement years before he ran the former Mark Twain Book Store in Virginia City, shepherded them along the town’s main drag to cheers of recognition and accolades from people feeling the patriotic spirit of the day.

“It’s great,” said Seymour as his Jeep got going. Then recollections took over.

“When I was in Korea, we had snow at times,” he said. “I spent eight months on the front lines.” Seymour was recognized with a Bronze Star for his service.

Seymour recalled that he was provided basic training at Fort Ord in California, returned to Virginia City before shipping out for Korea and married Pat, a fifth-generation resident of the Comstock, at St. Mary’s in the Mountains Roman Catholic Church. They’ve been married more than six decades.

After his time in Korea, where he was an Army sergeant first class, Seymour worked as a miner, a machinist and an electrician.

The C Street parade featured patriots of 20th and 21st century warfare and peacetime pursuits, as well as the usual suspects in 19th century garb who show up for any and every promenade along VC’s main street to offer up flavor of the days when the town was a thriving near metropolis atop a cache of gold and silver. Boom times eventually played out and the 20,000 population dwindled.

But the town won’t let that Old West era die.

Every parade, including Monday’s, features members of the Living Legend Docent Program, a chautauqua-style effort in which residents and area VC lovers dress as 19th century characters to help the town attract and bring back tourists year after year.


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