Thousands of Austinites lined Congress Avenue Friday morning to watch the 63rd Austin Veterans’ Day Parade Ceremony, where a procession of bagpipes, firetrucks and Jeeps led supporters and veterans.
Mayor Steve Adler, who participated in the parade, said the event was special to him because his father was a disabled veteran in World War II.
“It rings home with me,” Adler said. “It’s important as a community to collectively thank veterans and the folks that are potentially putting themselves in harm for the rest of us.”
The parade began at 9:30 a.m. as people started to walk toward the State Capitol building. Above the crowded streets, many watched from offices or left work to watch the event.
“It’s great that so many people came out to honor the veterans,” said Chris Nurrin, a foreman with National Electric who watched the parade near his work site. “This is a parade that’s showing unity as opposed to the parade the other day that was just divisive. I think this is wonderful.”
Nurrin was referencing the anti-Trump protests last night which took a similar route to the Capitol.
Adler said this parade is important to connect people in the wake of the election.
“We just went through a trying election on lots of levels,” Adler said. “But today everybody gathers in one place as one people saying thank you, and that feels good.”
Government senior Dan Hamilton served five years in the Marine Corps in Iraq and Afghanistan because he said he wanted to grow up, see the world and serve his country. He said he didn’t want to go to college and just do what everyone else was doing.
After his service, Hamilton came to UT to build on his experiences in the military and make himself more well-rounded as an individual. He said it felt weird being called “a veteran” at first, being so young.
“My service was one of the most important things I did and will always be one of the most important things I ever did, but the time and the place we are in now after service also has a tremendous amount of value,” Hamilton said. “It’s a time of reflection on those we served with and a gratitude of that, but it’s also a reminder to continue to serve my community and to serve my family and to serve in the classroom and be a leader.”
After the parade concluded around 10:45 a.m., a group of veterans took a seat on the steps of the Capitol where radio personality Bob Cole addressed a crowd gathered for a ceremony.
Cole read a statement from Governor Greg Abbott honoring veterans, and Senator Robert Nichols read a similar statement from the State Senate. State Representative Paul Workman also came to honor those who have served.
Mayor Adler then took the podium and thanked veterans, emphasizing the importance of honoring and helping veterans.
“We can never do enough,” Adler said before he read a proclamation that officially honored Nov. 11th, 2016, as Veterans Day.