A nationwide effort to recognize and welcome home veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has come to southern Arizona.
The Welcome Home Veterans Parade will take place in Tucson, on Saturday, March 31. It will be the second Welcome Home Veterans Parade in the nation.
"Approximately two months ago, people came together--volunteers--on the basis that nothing has really happened on a community-wide basis to recognize and thank people for the service," says Tucson's Welcome Home Veterans Parade organizer, Alan Toppel. "So they had a parade in St. Louis, Missouri, that drew 100,000 people."
Inspired by that first parade, Toppel visited the St. Louis organizers and then set about creating a similar event in Tucson.
The events will begin Friday, March 30, with a remembrance service at Pima Community College's Downtown Campus at 7 a.m. The service will include the naming of the over 6,000 men and women lost in these two conflicts.
The parade will take place the following Saturday at 10:30 a.m., and begins on the corner of North Stone Avenue and West Pennington Street in downtown Tucson.
Abel Moreno, executive director and co-founder of Vets4Vets and a veteran who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, says the parade will serve as a platform to not only recognize veterans but to bring veterans of all eras together.
"This is going and surpassing the idea of putting a magnet ... on the back of your car that says support your veterans," says Moreno.