BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - By Elizabeth Vowell – email
BILOXI, MS (WLOX) – "I spent 22 years in the air force," said veteran Joe Oaks.
"I went to Vietnam for three tours," said veteran Al Kruger.
"I was in for 20 years," said veteran Yolie Donley.
It was for these veterans, and the hundreds of others who have served or are serving, that residents flooded downtown Biloxi. Young and old lined the streets to watch the 11th Annual Veterans Day Parade and to say thank you for their service and sacrifice.
"The parade is in honor of all veterans, those active and those retired. Our active duty people, that's why we're here. It's what it's all about," said Oaks who serves as VFW Post 2434 Quarter Master.
For many watching the parade, the scene of American flags and patriotic music usually reserved for Fourth of July, was an emotional sight.
"It means a lot. It means a lot. It's a fulfillment of their trust in us, and when they applause us as we're passing by, it gives you a lump in the throat," said Oaks.
"Totally awesome! It just really shows your pride," said Donley.
This year's parade was an endless stream of local active units, school bands, Junior ROTC groups and more. All paused to greet the crowd and salute this year's Parade Marshall, Apollo 13 astronaut and Biloxi native Fred Haise.
"It gets your heart going. It really does. It sort of fulfills the need to get out there and do more," said Oaks.
The parade weaved its way through downtown Biloxi and finally ended at the Town Green. Even though the parade only lasted a short time, the message won't fade anytime soon.
"Take pride in what you have," said Donley.