By Paul Fattig
ASHLAND -- Simone Coster is looking for men and women who have worn a military uniform or are still serving in the armed forces to march in Ashland's Independence Day parade.
Coster decided to obtain a parade entry for the 2012 annual Fourth of July parade after watching last year's entries and noticing there was little in it to honor veterans or those still in uniform.
"After last year's parade my mom and I started talking about the parade and why we celebrate the Fourth of July," Coster said.
"I grew up in Ashland," she added. "For the majority of my life, I've gone to every Fourth of July parade here. The parade has gotten very political."
Coster, 32, hopes her entry will simply remind parade watchers of the role veterans and those still serving play in American independence, she said.
"I thought it would be something unusual, honoring men and women in uniform," she said. "I also think it would be great if the town could thank them."
Many local residents want to show their appreciation for those who have served, said Coster who described herself as a homemaker and mother of two who is pregnant with her third child.
She has contacted the Oregon Army National Guard at the Ashland armory which is expected to provide several vehicles and 15 citizen soldiers for her entry.
Coster, whose grandfather served during World War II, hopes to have at least 40 participants for the event.
"I'm looking for any veterans (or service men and women) to walk in the parade or to ride in military vehicles," she said. "My goal is to just give the thank-you' they deserve for what they've done for all of us."
Any veteran or local person still in the military who wants to participate in her parade entry can reach her at 541-292-9020.
She doesn't plan to walk or ride in the entry.
"I want the focus to be on them and what they have done for us," she said.
Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 776-4496 or e-mail him at email@example.com.
This story originally appeared in Medford Mail Tribune.