On Saturday, January 28th, thousands of people lined the downtown streets cheering the marchers on the parade that honored the servicemen and women who served in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. This was the nation’s first major welcome to the servicemen and women since the end of the war.
The parade route was a mile long and featured thousands of marchers, five hundred motorcycles, veterans from the most recent Afghanistan and Iraq war, ninety-three floats, and veterans from the invasion of Iraq in 1991, veterans from Vietnam, the Budweiser Clydesdales, and high school bands. Many family members of all the veterans who marched in the parade marched with them. The veterans who marched in the parade came from all over the country.
The parade was organized through social media by a coalition of private citizens, local officials and veteran groups. The parade was the brain child of two men, Tom Applebaum, an attorney, and Craig Schneider, a technical coordinator for the school district. Neither of the men had served in the military.
The ceremony began on Friday night with volunteers reading through the night the names of the more than six thousand service men and women who have been killed in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars since the attacks on September 11th. This part of the ceremony took place near the Gateway Arch at the Soldiers’ Memorial.