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Veterans Day: A family affair

For most, Veterans Day is an opportunity to pay tribute to those who served.

But for Regions Bank’s Chris Parker, it’s akin to a family reunion.

And for good reason.

Parker, a consumer lending analyst in the finance department at Regions, is happy to share with all of Birmingham the honor that his great-grandfather, Raymond Weeks, brought to the bank’s headquarters city in 1954.

Weeks, a Birmingham native, served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. When he returned, he realized there was no holiday to honor those who fought in the war. Armistice Day was founded in 1919 to celebrate the end of World War I, and Memorial Day commemorates those who fought and died while serving in the Armed Forces.

Weeks led a delegation to Washington, D.C., in 1947 to establish a holiday that would be a tribute to all veterans. President Dwight Eisenhower signed legislation in 1954 creating the Veterans Day holiday.

Three generations later, Parker and his family actively participate in the Birmingham Veterans Day activities – including leading the parade, just a block away from Parker’s office at Regions Center.

“Birmingham has had its highs and lows, but this is something we can all be proud of,” said Parker about his hometown hosting the oldest Veterans Day parade in the country.

Regions Bank has been a corporate sponsor of the Birmingham parade for more than a decade and Regions celebrates Veterans Day with many bank-wide programs and recognitions.

But. according to Steve Beres, Service Members and Veterans Affairs manager for Regions, the support for military members, veterans and their families isa  priority every day of the year.

“Through community involvement, military-friendly products and services, and efforts to employ and develop veterans, military members and their spouses, we are committed to making life better for those who serve and their families,” Beres said.

“Having a Regions associate with family ties to the Veterans Day holiday makes our efforts even more meaningful.”

The connection is a real point of pride for Parker.

“My great-grandfather died before I was born, so unfortunately I never knew him,” he said. “But I’m so proud that my parents, brother, cousins, aunts and uncles still get together each year on Nov. 11 to honor him and all the veterans who have served our country.”

Raymond Weeks has been recognized as a true national hero. In 1982, President Ronald Reagan presented him with the Presidential Citizens Medal.

“My great-grandfather was passionate about ensuring Americans never forget about the loyalty and dedication of our veterans and it’s important that succeeding generations continue to pay tribute to those brave men and women,” Parker said.

Parker said that plans are in the works to develop school programs to educate young people in Birmingham about the city’s key role in the holiday – which is a real “feather in its cap,” according to Parker.

“My wife Betsy and I just got married last year, and I look forward to continuing the family tradition of marching in the parade and attending the other Veterans Day activities in Birmingham each year,” Parker said. “It’s part of my DNA and really all of Birmingham’s DNA!”

(Courtesy of Regions Bank)

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