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Celebrating a Legacy of Service: James W. Putney Jr., Grand Marshal of the 2023 Charleston Veterans Day Parade

James W. Putney Jr., Grand Marshal of the 2023 Charleston Veterans Day Parade
James W. Putney Jr., Grand Marshal of the 2023 Charleston Veterans Day Parade

This year, the Ralph H. Johnson Health Care System and the City of Charleston are proud to celebrate the 23rd Annual Veterans Day Parade, a cherished event dedicated to honoring America's heroes.

Leading the parade as the Grand Marshal is a distinguished veteran, community leader, and dedicated servant, James W. Putney Jr.

Born and raised in Savannah, Georgia, James W. Putney Jr. has led a life marked by service, dedication, and leadership. He is the son of the late James W. Putney Sr. and Mrs. Janet Putney. At just 17 years old, James answered the call to serve his country, joining the United States Army. His first duty station took him to Germany, marking the beginning of a 20-year honorable service that would see him retire as a Staff Sergeant at Fort Benning, Georgia.

During his military career, James served as a Construction and Combat Engineer, roles that demanded resilience, precision, and a strong sense of duty. Upon retirement, he returned to his roots in Savannah, transitioning to a career at the Chatham County Courthouse, where he continued his legacy of service until his retirement in 2016.

But retirement did not slow James down. Instead, it fueled his passion for community involvement. He became an active participant in numerous local organizations, including the Savannah High School Band, Parent University, Kappa League, and the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA). His leadership skills shone through as he served as PTA President at Savannah High School and later became the first African American male PTA District Director in Southeast Georgia.

Today, James serves as the Commander of American Legion Post 500, a position he has held for four years. His journey with the American Legion began a decade ago, starting as the Chaplain and progressing through the ranks. His commitment to empowering the youth is evident in his work with the Boys and Girls State program and the Oratorical program, both of which provide invaluable learning opportunities and scholarship potential for students.

Furthermore, James plays a crucial role in supporting veterans as the Georgia American Legion Homeless Veteran Chairman and as the Chaplain for the Veterans Council of Chatham County. His spiritual leadership extends to his service as a Deacon at 2nd Mount Zion Baptist Church and his involvement with Connor's Temple Baptist Church.

As we approach November 5, 2023, the anticipation for the Veterans Day Parade grows. Set to take place at 1:00 p.m. in downtown Charleston, the event, hosted by the Ralph H. Johnson VA Health Care System, promises to be a moving tribute to our Veterans. For James W. Putney Jr., being selected as the Grand Marshal is more than just an honor; it is a testament to a life well-lived-in service to others.

"Being selected as the Veterans Day Parade Grand Marshal I feel is one of the greatest honors that I could ever achieve," expresses James, a sentiment that captures the humility and dedication that have defined his journey. He urges the community to not only honor veterans but to actively participate in their support, stating, "When you see an organization that is helping a veteran, lend a hand; no amount of help is too little help."

As Charleston prepares to salute its Veterans, James W. Putney Jr. stands as a beacon of service, leadership, and unwavering commitment to both his country and his community. The Veterans Day Parade is an opportunity for Charleston, and indeed the nation, to reflect on the sacrifices of our Veterans and to celebrate the spirit of service that defines our Nation's Heroes.