29 June 2012

Parade Celebrates Veterans of All Eras

During blistering week of 100-plus-degree heat indices, Iowans are preparing not only for next week's Fourth of July festivities, but for a 1.2-mile parade from the Iowa state capitol to the Veterans Memorial Auditorium. Organizers predict from 1,000 to 2,000 service members and veterans will participate in the Sat., June 30 event, which starts at 10 a.m. and will last for about an hour.

The "Salute to our Veterans and Service Members” parade will honor current and past members of the U.S. armed forces. The Des Moines (Iowa) Register's William Petroski writes:
Gov. Terry Branstad initiated plans for the event after a parade in St. Louis for Iraq war vets drew crowds estimated at nearly 100,000. Similar parades have been held in Tucson, Ariz., and Houston. But Branstad expanded the idea to recognize veterans of past wars, as well as active-duty military members.

The parade will have no grand marshal, but a riderless horse will be at the front, symbolizing Iowa’s fallen warriors who will ride no more. Sixty-five Iowans died in the Iraq war, and 20 others have died in the Afghanistan war. Many more have been wounded. About 15,000 Iowa National Guard members have been deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and thousands of Iowans have been deployed with other military service branches.
Branstad, who served in the U.S. Army from 1969 to 1971, has occasionally donned his old Class-A uniform during gubernatorial campaigns from 1983-1999, as well as in 2010. News reports indicate he will again wear his uniform at Saturday's parade.

Participants include members of the Iowa Army and Air National Guards, the U.S. Army Reserve, the U.S. Naval Reserve, and the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. Also participating are veterans service organizations such as Vietnam Veterans of America, the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars.

The parade will include the Iowa National Guard's 34th Army Band, a unit recently profiled on Iowa Public Radio.

“It is important to honor our heroes here at home,” said Branstad in a press release. “As a former member of the Army, and now commander-in-chief of the Iowa National Guard, I am proud of the men and women that represent our state on the battlefields across the world and when disaster strikes here on the home front.”

For information on parking for the parade, visit the Des Moines Register here.

For a PDF map of the parade route, click here.

1 comment:

  1. Has this been going on in previous years? If so, I hadn't heard of it. This is a fine concept, and well worth the time and expense. Wish I could be there to see it.


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