Thousands cheer on South MS veterans during grand parade

Thousands cheer on South MS veterans during grand parade
Spectators of all ages lined the streets, waved and shouted thank you to heroes. (Photo source: WLOX)
Spectators of all ages lined the streets, waved and shouted thank you to heroes. (Photo source: WLOX)

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Patriotic music echoed throughout downtown Biloxi on Saturday as the men and women who fought on foreign soil paraded for miles.

For the veterans who didn't march in the Gulf Coast Veterans Day Parade, they rolled through the streets in classic cars, motorcycles and some even pulled trucks.

Spectators of all ages lined the streets, waved and shouted thank you to heroes.

"They give up their lives to save ours," a parade watcher said.

"We love the military and our country," another parade watcher said.

Many of the people who came out Saturday said the patriotic celebration was a wonderful chance to come face-to-face with their history.

"We tend to forget and enjoy and go on picnics, the Fourth of July, and forget how many men never came home. Those that did come home never forget them. I don't think they teach enough in school today," Tom Simmons said.

War heroes Doyle Hodges and Tommy Espositeo were two of the veterans who were spotlighted during the parade for their decades of service that started back in their teenage years.

"I served with Gen. Patton in the last battle he fought," Espositeo said.

"I went in at age 17, and I served about 42 months in the Pacific," Hodges said.

"Most veterans in our generation were dedicated, and we had the nation at heart," Espositeo said.

That sacrifice and service to the nation is why many South Mississippians said they will be forever grateful to these soldiers.

"It makes tears come in my eyes, because I love them all," a citizen said.

The parade's grand marshal for this year was Clifford Kuykendall. He is the sole survivor of the USS Tullibee that was lost during World War II.

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