ASHLAND — If you have ever worn a military uniform or are still serving in the armed forces, Simone Coster wants to hear from you.
Coster, 33, a lifelong Ashland resident, is looking for veterans or those still serving to march in Ashland's annual Independence Day parade.
"I want to be able to thank them," she explained. "These men and women are why we celebrate the Fourth of July. I want to make sure they are part of the parade.
"There is always a lot of politics involved in the event," she added. "I want to make sure they are also honored."
This marks the second consecutive year that Coster has spearheaded a parade entry for the colorful event. She started what she hopes will be a tradition after watching the 2011 parade and noticing there was little in it to honor veterans or those still in uniform.
Last year, she worked with the local Oregon Army National Guard unit, which supplied a truck that carried four World War II veterans. Half a dozen other veterans walked with her parade entry last year.
"The crowd stood up and clapped — they appreciated it," she said.
Coster, whose grandfather served in World War II and whose father-in-law also is a veteran, said she hopes her entry will simply remind parade watchers of the role veterans and those still serving play in American independence.
"I've lived here my whole life — I want to see them participating in the parade," she said.
Any veteran or local person still in the military who wants to join her parade entry can reach her at 541-292-0455. Those interested are asked to contact her by July 1.
"I'm looking for men and women who served — and who are serving — and want to walk in the parade this year," she said. "My goal is to just give them the thank-you they deserve."
Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 541-776-4496 or firstname.lastname@example.org.