and thank them for their service.
Veterans said they were heartened by the number of young students who participated and attended the parade this year, more than they had seen in previous parades.
The ninth annual Veterans Day Parade, sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Marietta and the city of Marietta, included marching bands, drill teams, military vehicles and decorated floats, and had representation from all branches of the military.
“A parade is the bands, and they were great,” said Milton Dickson, a veteran of the Air Force who served from 1966 to 1969 during the Vietnam War.
Dickson watched the end of the parade from Mulligans restaurant on Roswell Street, just east of the Square, with fellow veterans.
As “God Bless America” played over the restaurant’s speakers, Dickson said he was impressed by the number of young people who were involved in the parade this year, which made it bigger than it has been in years past.
Dickson said he didn’t think about his service in the military on Veterans Day unless somebody asked him about it, but that it was important for young people to acknowledge the military and its veterans.
A group of seventh-grade students from Marietta Middle School came out to watch the parade this year as a learning experience, said Robert Meaders, the seventh-grade magnet social studies teacher at the school.
“We wanted the kids to be part of a celebration of something more than themselves, so they can see that these people walking down the street are the ones that fought for their rights,” he said.
“It connects them to the community and teaches them about their history.”
First-generation American student Thomas Verstraete said he thought the parade was “cool.”
The parade was the first time he had interacted with American veterans or the military, he said.
His mother, Helouise Verstraete, immigrated to the states 12 years ago from Bonaire, a Dutch island, and chaperoned the school event because she felt that Veterans Day was an important event for her to participate in with her child.
“I’m not an American, but I’m glad for the freedoms here. It is awesome to see how these people fought for our freedom,” she said as she waved an American flag.
Many of the school children were not alive on Sept. 11, 2001, and Stacy Holland, who attended the parade with the Cobb Education Consortium, said it was important for students to be aware and involved in honoring and helping veterans returning to their community.
She helped to pass out booklets, “Putting the pieces together,” which provided veterans with resources for re-acclimating to life after the military.
“We know a lot of veterans are coming back, we have to serve them once they come back, as they served us,” she said.
Bo and Sherry Lee traveled in from White to watch their 15-year-old son march in uniform with his high-school Junior ROTC. They were impressed by the size of the parade, as it was their first time attending, they said.
“I liked the Veterans of Foreign Wars float, and the ROTC, as they marched in precision,” said bystander Jerry Sweeney. “The bands this year were really enthused.”