Connecticut is holding its annual Veterans parade in downtown Hartford Sunday. While tens of thousands of spectators are expected to line the streets in their red, white, and blue, thousands more will march in the parade.
“We get out there and the townspeople we love to hear them cheer for us. We know the price of freedom isn’t free so this is their way of saying thanks to us, and we just enjoy it,” said Randall Henry, the chair of the Blind Veterans Association.
Thousands of people are expected to line up for this patriotic parade, waving flags and holding signs thanking the veterans for their service and sacrifice.
“Kids especially out here getting educated on the great service of our veterans,” said Lt. Col. Sean Connolly, the Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Veterans Affairs.
The three thousand participants who step off every year make Connecticut’s Veterans parade the largest in New England.
The Salvation Army’s “donut girls” are handing out sweet treats to our military men and women. The organization has a long history of serving the troops starting in World War I, when they brought a taste of home to the battlefield.
“They were right on the front lines. They were helping take care of the sick, they were writing letters, they were mending socks, they were baking,” explained the Salvation Army’s Secretary of Veteran Affairs for Southern Connecticut, Janet Gonzalez.
A wreath-laying ceremony at the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch honors those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, before the parade. The parade will culminate in a military fly-over and moment of silence. A C-130 flew over the crowd, for the first time at the parade since 2008.
Many of the marchers are veterans themselves.
“It was such a nice deal that we just keep coming back,” said Army First Class Brendan Sniffin, the Commander of the Korean War Veterans of Danbury.
Members of AMVETS, who rode in a homemade train, were a new entry this year.
“One thing we have is a bond. The day that you raise your hand and say, ‘I will,’ that gives you a special bond that no other person in the United States understands,” said Dana Dillon, the former commander of the Connecticut AMVETS.
That is what many of these veterans said brings them back year after year.