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Re-enactment group to make first appearance in Veterans Day Parade
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Re-enactment group to make first appearance in Veterans Day Parade

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The 2020 Council Bluffs Veterans Day Parade will include a nod to veterans who have gone before those alive today.

The parade will step off at 11 a.m. on Nov. 7 at South Main Street and Ninth Avenue.

Terry’s Texas Rangers, a Civil War re-enactment group, will bring an 1860s-style military presence to the event for the first time ever.

“It’s a good entry,” said Brad Powell, an American Legion member who is coordinating the parade. “Sounds like it will be very interesting.”

Other entries range from the Iowa Western Community College Marching Band to Craig Salts, who will walk in memory of his grandfather, Powell said.

“I really appreciate any people that are going to honor family members, whether they’re living or not,” he said.

Bill Sommervell, captain of Company H of Terry’s Texas Rangers, expects to have two horse-drawn cannons; flag bearers; several outriders, including Marti Lynch of Council Bluffs and Stan Sibley of Glenwood; and a riderless horse in the parade, he said. Lynch becomes Martin Lynch during events, since women weren’t allowed in the cavalry during the 1800s.

“The riderless horse will have boots backward in the stirrups to symbolize a fallen leader looking back at his unit,” he said.

Members of Company H, part of the Texas Brigade, primarily hail from Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri, Sommervell said.

“We’re the only non-Texas-resident company,” he said.

The group usually participates in five or six events a year but has been inactive this year, Sommervell said.

“Because of the virus, we pretty much shut down for the year,” he said. “This Veterans Parade is going to be the first event we’ve done with horses this year.”

Members are looking forward to the opportunity, he said.

Company H has participated in re-enactments of the Battles of Gettysburg, Shiloh, Chickamauga, Antietam and, for variety, Custer’s Last Stand, Sommervell said. The troop was doing Gettysburg every five years, until the 155th anniversary. Its last big event was at Perryville, Kentucky.

“We try to do one big national event every year,” he said. “We make our own blanks. We use black powder. I’ll make up a couple hundred of those at the beginning of the season.”

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It has also appeared in the John Wayne Horse Parade — held on May 26, the Western star’s birthday — in Winterset, Living History at Fort Atkinson at Nebraska’s Fort Atkinson State Historical Park, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Kansas City and many other events.

The company is best known in southwest Iowa for its participation in a Memorial Day re-enactment at the Silver City Cemetery.

“My roster is about 30 (people),” Sommervell said.

That includes women who go along to portray camp chefs and washerwomen at re-enactments, he said.

Besides making blanks, Sommervell has collected horses and equipment to use in re-enactments.

“Right now, I’ve got 20 horses,” he said.

That includes five adult Percherons, three yearlings and two colts born in April; and an assortment of Morgans, Missouri Fox Trotters, Arabians and quarter horses.

Sommervell also has two cannons, two covered wagons, muskets, uniforms and other equipment.

The company also does presentations/demonstrations at schools and has visited schools in Council Bluffs, Lewis Central, Riverside and Atlantic Community School Districts, he said.

Sommervell got involved in historical re-enactments after learning that he had ancestors who fought in the Revolutionary War and some who fought in the Civil War, he said. His son was interested, too, so he bought a couple Springfield muskets and joined the 3rd Arkansas Cavalry.

“My first re-enactment event was the Battle of Keokuk,” he said.

The 3rd Arkansas did cavalry maneuvers but didn’t do anything with horses, so Sommervell left after a year, bought some horses and joined the 8th Arkansas Cavalry. The next year, he saw Terry’s Texas Rangers and was hooked.

“From that point on, I just embraced them as the main unit,” he said.

He’s been with the group for about 20 years now.

The parade is sponsored by the nonprofit Council Bluffs Veterans Day Parade Foundation, with support from the American Legion Post No. 2, Disabled American Veterans Chapter 5, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 737 and Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 798.

Organizations and individuals who would like to be in the parade can still enter, Powell said. For more information, see councilbluffsveteransdayparade.org.

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