WACO, Texas – Monday morning started out beautifully without a beating sun and the temperatures in the high 60’s. Even with a cold front blowing through and a steady rain, hundreds of Central Texans lined Austin Avenue in Waco to thank veterans.
The parade was nearly 90 minutes of paying tribute through unique rides, extravagant dance numbers and a plethora of patriotic tunes performed by the local high school marching bands.
For some, it is more than a choice. It is tradition.
“It means that we served our country, and the parade is to honor our veterans, and that’s why I’m here and that’s why I come every year,” says U.S. Army Veteran Emmitt Pruitt.
For others, it was a way of remembering why they were proud to serve.
“It means quite a bit,” says U.S. Air Force veteran J.P. Motley. “When I came back from Vietnam, they said, ‘Do not wear your uniform in the United States of America.’ I never forgot that. That’s the reason I got this [Vietnam veteran] cap on today.”
For the children at the parade, it was a perfect way to add to their recent Halloween stash – as nearly every group was tossing candy from their floats.
While Monday was a massive show of support from the community, the willingness to thank veterans apparently was not always there.
“They really only started doing this in the recent years,” Pruitt says. “It used to be that they didn’t even recognize the veterans. But it’s different now, and I appreciate that.”
Even with the cancellation of the parade last year and weather conditions reminiscent of Lake Superior when the gales of November come early, the community still showed up in great numbers to say “thank you.”