On Friday I marched in my first Veteran's Day parade.
Because the 11th fell on a Saturday, Leon County and the city of Tallahassee held the parade on a Friday when everyone was off for the holiday. The assumption among large numbers of people in Tallahassee was that the parade was moved to accomodate the Florida State football game. I don't believe this to be true, but it is hard to change public perception.
I found the whole experience to be very emotional. The WW II and Korean veterans rode on a float while the Vietnam, Desert Storm and Iraq/Afghanistan veterans walked. I helped a 97 year old WW II veteran out of his wheelchair on on to the float. He had recently decided to join my American Legion Post. We gave him a discount.
By the way, I was recently appointed Finance Officer of American Legion Post 13 in Tallahassee. I think no one else wanted the job.
The parade was short but memorable. As the float moved forward, and I walked alongside handing out little flags to children, the citizens of the county who came out to see the parade arose as if in a wave on both sides of the street and gave us a standing ovation. Several times I had to pause and wipe the tears from my eyes.
There were some Viet Nam veterans there who really appreciated the love. They had waited a long time for this kind of response.