Thousands of spectators gathered in St. Louis Saturday to cheer on the Iraq War Veterans who marched in the city’s welcome home parade.
An estimated 100,000 people lined the mile-long route to show support for and thank the 600 Veterans who participated. Saturday’s parade was the first to take place in a major American city since the War in Iraq officially came to an end last month.
Although some, including military officials, felt that staging parades would be premature with American troops still fighting in Afghanistan, the event’s organizers, Tom Applebaum and Craig Schneider, felt it was time our troops received a proper welcome home.
“You know the greatest generation in World War II, they had the welcome homes, they had the big city parades, and although we’re not the greatest generation, we certainly pulled our weight,” Army Major Rick Radford told a local FOX affiliate. “And now we are getting a true welcome home from St. Louis.”
In addition to Iraq Veterans, family members of service members who were killed in action, marching bands and even the Budweiser Clydesdales took part in the parade.
While the parade’s organizers were happy with its success, they plan on continuing their efforts to help America’s Veterans.
The two friends hope to raise $7 million dollars by Super Bowl Sunday. Half of the money would go to The Mission Continues, a non-profit that seeks to encourage Veterans to take part in volunteer projects in their communities. The organization helped Applebaum and Schneider organize the event.
The rest of the money would be donated to The Welcome Home Foundation, which would distribute the money to Veterans service organizations across the nation.