ST. LOUIS (KMOX)-The nation’s first parade to honor Iraq and Afghan war veterans, which steps off from Kiener Plaza at noon tomorrow continues to grow.
The Mission Continues Vice President Meredith Knopp says more than one thousand veterans and their family members have registered to march in the parade, and 83 floats are scheduled to join the procession, and they are still getting calls from individuals and larger groups.
Organizer Tom Appelbaum’s wife, LaDonna, has taken many of the calls from veterans and family members interested in joining the parade, “A lot of tears, happy tears have been shed. It’s time for the healing to begin.” Tom Appelbaum says they have gotten calls from as far away as California and New Jersey.
Army Reservist James Casey, who’s completed three tours to the middle-east, admits that being with his fellow veterans, surrounded by an appreciative public, will be emotional, “I’m going to be in tears. I will be, I’m not going to lie. Every time I got back to the states there were tears and this is just another homecoming, and this is the real one as far as I’m concerned.”
Army National Guard Major Rick Radford says the parade will be an incredible celebration, “When we got to America and they said ‘you are now on American soil,’ you could have dropped me anywhere in the states and I was home. That’s what this feels like, it feels like family is going to be here.”
Activities leading up to the parade begin Friday night. Starting at 9:11 the names of the 6,502 men and woman who have died in Iraq or Afghanistan will be read aloud at the Soldiers’ Memorial at 1315 Market St.
Veterans who are going to march in the parade should report to Broadway and Clark at 10:30 am Saturday.
The parade steps off from Kiener Plaza at noon and will head west on Market to Union Station.
From 11:00 am until 5:00 pm a Veterans Resource Village will be available to help link veterans with at least 54 service organizations. There will also be music and entertainment.
Mayflower will be setting up containers at 13th and Market, to accept clothing donations for veterans in need.
For more information on all the festivities, click here.
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