HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Thousands of patriots and spectators lined the streets of downtown Huntsville Monday morning for the annual Veterans Day Parade.
This year’s festivities were even more ceremonious as those in attendance commemorated the 50th anniversary of the start of the Vietnam war.
162 parade entries graced the streets of downtown this year. But even with all the pomp, circumstance, sights and sounds - the event was much more than just a spectacle for many Huntsvillians.
For the youngest in attendance at this year's parade the flashiness of sports cars, the barrage of crisp uniforms or even the beckoning of a child's favorite device or bauble - there is plenty to distract from the true meaning and purpose of the day.
Mother Kiyomi Brandon arrived early and staked out prime real estate on the corner of Church and Monroe Streets to get the best view of her oldest daughter marching as a freshman in the Lee High School Band. But the front row seat, she says also provide for a good lesson for her two other girls.
"Well I let them know that these are the people that fought for us," Brandon says, "I try to remind them of that every day, not just today."
Many parents we spoke to were using the parade as a learning opportunity for their children. Like mom Cathy Ward and her five-year-old daughter Macy.
"I think it's important that she knows how important the military is to not only our family but also to the community and the world," Ward says.
Someone with a little more worldly experience, 80-year-old Barbara Smith, showed up to watch her husband - a Korean War veteran and octogenarian himself - participate in the parade. This voice of experience says the stoic silence of service members needs to be conveyed and honored - no matter your age.
"What I pray mostly for is that we start teaching more in schools - our school kids don't have a clue," says Smith. "I would hope that young people would appreciate what the veterans have done; I thank God every day for them - I really do," she said.
Comment below and tell us what this Veterans Day 2013 has meant to you and your family.