All Iowans who served in the military were honored with a special parade in downtown Des Moines, Saturday morning. Titled, “A Salute to our Veterans and Service Members,” hundreds of people dusted off their old uniforms and marched through downtown from the State Capitol Building.
Gov. Terry Branstad’s administration organized the event as a way to say “thank you” to all veterans, but especially those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Gulf War Army veteran Kevin Schaum said, “I just think it’s a great thing for everybody to get together and kind of realize what the troops do for us.”
Many events that honor the military are somber affairs that memorialize the fallen, but the parade felt more like a celebration for the people who served and survived, and for the people who were once ridiculed. “There were people yelling at me and obscenities and trying to spit on me and you just had to shrug it off and say they don’t know. They didn’t have a clue as to what we went through when we were serving in Vietnam,” said Dennis Skelton. Skelton said that he and his fellow Vietnam War veterans have now been thanked for their service, “But what all of us wanted to hear more than anything is just ‘welcome home.’ That’s the welcome we didn’t get, so this is really great to have this (parade) today.”
Skelton said that the parade will assure that veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan will never have to wonder, what happened to their parade? A similar parade was held 13 years ago in 1999 to recognize those who served during Desert Storm.