ST. MARYS — With the boom of a cannon, the third annual Veterans Day parade got started and gave all local residents a chance to pay tribute to those who fought for their freedom.
Residents lined Spring Street, waved flags and saluted the veterans as they made their way through the procession. St. Marys Mayor Pat McGowan got the day started by welcoming those who came out on the sunny day.
“It’s a very, very important day for both our serving military and those who have come home,” McGowan said. “We can thank God for this beautiful day today, but we need to thank the veterans for giving us the freedom to enjoy it.”
McGowan also encouraged residents to thank a veteran.
“Just give them a thank you if you see them in public,” McGowan said. “We also need to be cognizant of our vets as they return that they may not always have physical wounds, they may have internal wounds that we need to help them through. For our employers, really think of them when jobs come up.”
Honoring veterans, McGowan said, is something residents should do on a daily basis and not just once a year.
“I think Veterans Day and Memorial Day are two of our most important civic holidays we have,” McGowan told The Evening Leader. “Every veteran is a dad, a mom, a husband, a wife and we should honor them. I don’t think people intentionally want to go off to war and witness the horror of war, but these men and women did their duties and should be honored.”
McGowan also commended the organizers of the parade for taking the step to honor all local veterans.
“I think it’s commendable that the citizens of St. Marys have gone out and done this on their own,” McGowan said. “We should always have a strong passion about God, family and our veterans. I think that is something we should always continue to do.”
Bob Warren gave the invocation before the start of the parade. Warren said honoring veterans is something that should never be forgotten.
“People have sacrificed and have taken on a servant’s heart to put others before themselves, even with the extent of laying down their lives to keep us free,” Warren told The Evening Leader. “They have given up so much and are still giving up so much. A lot of people have turned their backs on the veterans and they are not getting the help they need. So that’s why I am here to pray for the veterans. It’s the least I can do for all they have done for us in this great land.”
Warren said the parade should serve as a point of pride for the city.
“It just shows you they are willing to remember the veterans,” Warren said. “It’s a thankless job in a lot of cases and it goes to show in our hometown that people’s hearts are thankful for the people who are willing to sacrifice.”
Warren also had a message for the youth of the area.
“Remember the veterans because they were willing to fight to give up their freedom so we could have freedom in the United States,” Warren said.