This year, the Leon County Veteran’s Services planned a parade with several high school marching bands and more than 60 participants. On Wednesday morning local residents saw cloudy skies, temperatures in the 60s, but no parade.
The annual parade was cancelled due to a threat of thunderstorms. Some veterans were upset at the parade’s cancellation.
“I certainly don’t agree with the decision to cancel the parade,” said Michael Keller, private first class in the National Guard. “In the past years, it’s been a lot worse.”
Other veterans agreed, noting troops must fight in any weather condition.
According to Veteran Services officials, the forecast showed a 60 percent chance of rain. Veteran’s Services Director, Dale Keen, made the decision by 1:30 p.m. in consideration of the high school marching bands that needed the word before the students left school. Keen also feared damage to uniforms and equipment.
However, the party went on as several other groups showed their appreciation to local veterans. Residents watched as the Florida State University Army ROTC guarded the Vietnam Memorial located downtown for 24 hours. Others paid their respects at the Korean War Memorial on Gaines Street. The monument features the names of over 500 Floridian service men and women who were killed during the Korean War.
Several local restaurants offered free and discounted meals to local veterans. Several service men and women in and out of uniforms lined up at the Applebee’s on Apalachee Parkway even before the restaurant opened. All U.S. veterans and active duty military personnel were invited to choose a free entree’ including salads, burgers and steaks.
“We wanted to serve those who served our country,” said Tyler Hubbard, Applebee’s Manager. Hubbard said they served over five hundred veterans and active duty service men and women.
“They are one of our greatest neighbors, and we want to show them that they are appreciated,” Hubbard said.
Eugene Butler, Jr. an Army veteran from Desert Storm said Veteran’s Day is a day of remembrance.
“It brings attention to the efforts of the military,” Butler said. “We work extremely hard. This is their way of saying thanks.”
Butler reminisced with two Air Force veterans. One Air Force veteran fought in both Vietnam and Desert Storm, the other in World War II.
“We learned a lesson from Vietnam to Desert Storm,” Butler said. “The country learned to show our troops more appreciation.”
Butler also reminded citizens who are opponents of war where to direct their attention.
“Soldiers are not the roots of the problem,” Butler said. “They do not start wars, but the country can feel at ease.”