CHARLESTON, W.Va – Hundreds turned out Monday morning for the 72nd Charleston Veterans Day Parade. It’s the largest of its kind in the state and one of the oldest in the country.
For those in the parade and those watching from the sidewalks, everyone had a reason to be there and they’re all very different.
George Jackson, of Winfield, is a Vietnam Vet. He lost a leg but still made the entire parade route by riding a modified bicycle. He said it’s an emotional day for him to see so many people line the streets to wave as he goes by.
“Oh…it just brings me to tears…it really does,” said Jackson.
A fellow Vietnam Vet, C.B. Hall, of Charleston, explained when he came back from the war, there were no parades, no waving flags. He said it’s wonderful to see so many people come out to support veterans of all conflicts.
“It means a lot because it’s the nation showing respect to the veterans and that’s just terrific!”
Standing on Leon Sullivan Way as the parade proceeded down the street, April Basham of Malden was moved to tears. She has several family members in the military and Veterans Day reminds her of their service.
“It means to be thankful…thankful for what they’ve done for us and the sacrifices all our men and women have made,” stressed Basham. “I’m very proud of them and I’m proud to be an American.”
As veterans marched by, Gail Carpenter, of Charleston, was thinking of her father and uncle who served in WWII.
“You just ought to honor the veterans for our freedom. That’s all there is to it,” said Carpenter.
Just down the street, Kip Wilcox of Charleston had a small army of children with her. She brought along 6 kids, ranging in age from 3 to 9, to enjoy the parade.
“We bring them every year! The kids are very patriotic so they look forward to coming,” said Wilcox.”It’s their way to show support and be a part of the community.”
The city capped off its Veterans Day celebration with a ceremony at Haddad Riverfront Park.