Myrtle Beach hosting many Military Appreciation events this week -, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Myrtle Beach hosting many Military Appreciation events this weekend

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Myrtle Beach is celebrating its 50th commemorative anniversary of the Vietnam War over the weekend. The celebrations kick off a week of Veteran and Military Appreciation festivities, leading up to Memorial Day.

The old Pavilion site is home base to many impressive exhibits and Vietnam era displays that are set up in memory of those who sacrificed so much. Visitors can see the Agent Orange Quilt of Tears, the traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall, historic helicopters flown during the war, and much more. The displays and exhibits are open to the public and will be in Myrtle Beach through Saturday.

New this year, the traditional parade is going to happen Saturday, May 16 instead of on Memorial Day. City leaders made the decision this year to try and keep everyone as safe as possible and help curb violence like what was seen Memorial Day Weekend 2014. Local veterans were worried this would take away from the true meaning of Memorial Day, so they reached a compromise. The parade will be Saturday May 16 starting at 10:30 a.m. and then veterans will be allowed to have a smaller-scale march on Memorial Day. City spokesperson Mark Kruea says the goal is to transition everything back to the traditional Memorial Day for 2016.

The Grand Marshal for the parade this year is J.R. Martinez, an Army veteran, actor, author, and Dancing with the Stars champ. There will be a family picnic after the parade. You can meet Martinez at the picnic and enjoy activities, exhibits, music, and much more.

Event coordinators say this is not just about an agenda of fun activities, this all has a very deep purpose. “What is important about this is that when the guys came home from Vietnam, they never had a welcome home,” says Cathy Keister, the national vice president of the Associates of Vietnam Veterans of America. “They came home to a country that was not real happy with their service. And at no choice of their own, they weren't treated real well when they weren't give a welcome home party. So this is at 50 years later, this is our way of giving them a welcome home.”

These memorials are serving a bigger picture by teaching your kids are a valuable history lesson. On Friday, more than 600 students from Horry County Schools are scheduled to visit the helicopters, hop inside, and hear from three Vietnam War pilots. This group of pilots who restore and preserve these aircrafts are with the North Carolina Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association. This is the third year the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce invited them to the city to display the helicopters. The group will be back in to Myrtle Beach with a fleet of six helicopters to display from May 21-29 in front of the Convention Center.

For these veterans, preserving these helicopters is so important to help make history come alive for students. “It's a chance for them to touch history,” says Jerry Seago, a member of the North Carolina Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association. “That way when they're studying Vietnam in school, they can relate to the aircraft.”

And it's not just a teaching moment about the war, they're teaching students about all the related subjects that connect to the helicopters. The veterans hope these subjects might inspire the students to study or pursue careers in engineering or aviation.

Here is a full list of Military Appreciation events:

· Agent Orange Quilt of Tears and Vietnam Memorial Wall – 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., May 14-16, Ocean Boulevard at Eighth Avenue North

· Vietnam-Era Education Sessions for Students – Friday, May 15, Ocean Boulevard at Eighth Avenue North

· Military Appreciation Days Parade on Ocean Boulevard, with Grand Marshal J.R. Martinez – 10:30 a.m., Saturday, May 16, from 27th Avenue North to Ninth Avenue North

· Family Picnic (exhibits, live music, J. R. Martinez and more) – 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Saturday, May 16, Ocean Boulevard, Eighth to Ninth Avenue North… After the parade, join us for the Family Picnic on the Pavilion Site, complete with activities, military exhibits, music and more. Headlining the afternoon is a performance by the Andrew Thielen Big Band. You'll have a chance to meet Grand Marshal J.R. Martinez, too!

· Military Appreciation Days Dinner Dance – 6:00 p.m., Saturday, May 16, Landmark Resort

· Austin Mowery Band – 8:00 to 11:00 p.m., Saturday, May 16, Plyler Park Stage

· Memorial Day Veterans March – 9:00 a.m., Monday, May 25, Ocean Boulevard, from 16th Avenue North to Ninth Avenue North. For ease of parking, a shuttle will be provided from the Pelicans' stadium to Ocean Boulevard. A brief ceremony will follow the march at the Pavilion site. The march will end in time for all to attend the Memorial Day Ceremony at the Convention Center.

· Memorial Day Remembrance Ceremony – 11:00 a.m., Monday, May 25, Myrtle Beach Convention Center Plaza. The Grand Strand Patriot Alliance recognizes Memorial Day with speakers, the Missing Man Table, several Vietnam-era helicopters and an honor guard salute. The public is invited to attend.

· M.O.A.A. Grand Strand Golf Tournament – May 25

Find more info and links to details on these events here.

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