CRESTVIEW — Crowds lined Main Street Saturday morning for the annual Veterans Day Parade.
An enormous American flag hung over the parade route hoisted by a Crestview fire truck. Veterans of American wars wore hats and clothing representing the conflicts in which they served. Men, women and children waved American flags along the sidelines in honor of those who served our country.
‘WE … CAME BACK AS BROTHERS’
Those participating in the annual parade included the almost 300 members of the Crestview High School “Big Red Machine” Marching Band, the Shoal River Middle School Band, and the Baker School Band. There were Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts along with Crestview and Baker School ROTC units.
The Panhandle Saddle Club rode horses and dressed patriotically. Members of the Crestview City Council drove veterans in cars and golf carts in the parade. ERA American Real Estate handed American flags to crowds lined along the parade route. The Carver-Hill Memorial Historical Society also rode in the parade.
Air Force veteran Al Blaker stood along the parade route proudly waving the American flag, as did Vietnam veteran Terry Faulkner. Faulkner served in Vietnam from 1967-1969. His father was a Marine in World War I and his brothers served in the military.
“We went over there as soldiers and came back as brothers,” Faulkner said.
Vietnam veteran Thornell Henderson and his wife Pearl also stood along the parade route waving the American flag. He served in the Army from 1966-1969 and was in Vietnam in 1967.
“Veterans are forgotten lots of times. Remembering veterans with this parade is nice,” said Henderson. He and his wife are the parents of three sons who serve in the Air Force: Damian, D’Andre, and Dante.
Vietnam veteran Bobby Sullivan volunteered along the parade route as he does every year. He served in Vietnam from 1966-1967 and was in the Air Force for 29 years.
Retired Navy veteran David Legerton was there with his wife Donna supporting the military.
‘THESE VETERANS PUT THEIR LIVES ON THE LINE’
After the parade, a ceremony took place at the Okaloosa County Veterans Memorial honoring those who served and serve in the U.S. military.
Raymond Horton, an Army veteran with the 4th Infantry Division, Field Artillery, who served in Vietnam, was there with his wife Rena. The Hortons have been married for 66 years. Those who served in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan were also recognized.
Airman Amani Perry opened the ceremony singing the National Anthem. The guest speaker was Cmdr. Anthony Mitchell, who spoke about why men and women join the military.
“We put on a uniform to be part of something great! It is also a reflection of those who raised us. When these men and women are sitting in the middle of the most God-forsaken places, they remember the good things about back home. Let us also be worthy of the sacrifice that these men and women make and thank them,” Mitchell stated.
Different veteran groups then laid wreaths at the base of the memorial. There was a 21-gun salute and a Crestview High School trumpet player played Taps. Perry then sang “America, the Beautiful” to conclude the ceremony.
“These veterans put their lives on the line serving their country,” Crestview City Council President JB Whitten said at the end of the ceremony.
“Once a year, the city comes together to thank those people for their service with the parade and ceremony.”