Saturday, January 28, 2012

St. Louis welcomes home the heroes

St. Louis made history today. Two young men, Craig Schneider and Tom Applebaum, (and others) organized the only Welcome Home the Heroes from Iraq parade in the United States of America. I hope it is the first of many across our great land. This was not a political event in anyway. It wasn't necessarily a patriotic event. As Schneider said, "This event was not to support the war; it was to support the troops, to thank the returning young men and women who served in every branch of the armed forces."

The parade wound through downtown St. Louis to Union Station (formerly a train station, now a retail complex) where throngs of WW II military men and women used to embark and disembark.

Schneider and Applebaum seemingly organized and pulled this off overnight with the support of city and county officials, citizens and advocates. These fellows started a non-profit, raised $35,000 in three weeks and organized volunteers to staff booths at Union Station to inform veterans and military personell from all wars and conflicts, about regional and national resources and opportunities. These guys have only just begun. Their next goal is to raise seven million dollars in seven days to aide veterans and their families. My bet is their non-profit fundraiser will be a huge success and their organziation will be a model for other cities. Kudos to Craig Schneider, Tom Applebaum and all of the other unsung heroes who went above and beyond the call of duty!

It was 40 degrees and blustery today, but thousands of people came out to salute and honor our military men and women. Despite the weather, despite pro or antiwar convictions, young and old stood side by side waving flags, cheering, applauding and expressing appreciation. One lady standing behind me screeched her appreciation as every branch of service marched by. "Thank you, Marines! We love you Army! Yay Seabees. Thank you Navy, Airforce..." I'm sure she went home hoarse.

I overheard parade goers echo the same sentiments: "It's so cold, my hands and feet are frozen, but these men and women suffered far longer and far worse conditions than this. It's the least I can do to stand here for an hour and cheer them." People waved American flags of all sizes.

St. Louis's own team of Clydesdale horses pranced down Market Street.

A bald eagle from World Bird Sanctuary rode with his handler.

Military personell rode on floats.

They waved from military vehicles. Check that baby riding with his proud poppa.

The honor guard was greeted by rousing applause and cheers.

Veterans rode on train replicas.

Active duty dads rode with their children on a tram.

They were crammed onto trucks.

Military folk waved from army trucks and track vehicles.

Our returning heroes even rode with their children on firetrucks. One of our local newscasters, Chris Higgins, who is on active duty waved to the crowd from a float.

There was a 'Mater replica from the kids' movie, Cars. Not to mention go cart drivers doing fancy figure eights. There were numerous beautifully restored classic cars, limousines and also a marching band.

Viet Nam veterans received the loudest cheers. Check the thumbs up mirrored by the rider at far right in bright vest and the woman on the left.

Gold Star parent floats (parents who have lost their sons and daughters to war) brought a tear to my eye. The lives of anyone's child is too high a price to pay for war. I looked around at babies riding on their daddy's shoulders and I wept, and I thanked God for my children and grandchildren.

The pain on this woman's face, so fresh in her heart, was apparent as she carried her son's picture. Women AND men openly cried for her loss.

This woman wore her pain on her shoulder and pointed proudly to a picture of her beloved son or grandson.

And this was the perfect day to thank families for their sacrifices and to share this anthology. It is a collection of poems and stories about members of the U.S. military. Local writers, Sioux Roslawski, Justo G. Herrera, and I have stories or poems in this book.

The Harsh and the Heart published by Silver Boomer Books,is an apt title. It can be purchased on Click HERE


Karen Lange said...

Sounds like a wonderful way to celebrate and honor our service men and women. Thanks so much for sharing this and reminding me of the sacrifices they make.

Kathy's Klothesline said...

Brought back memories of standing on the docks with thousands of women and children as we waited for the aircraft carrier carrying my dad to return. It is an awesome sight. One time in particular sticks in my mind. Before any of the Navy men anxious to see their loved ones were allowed to come down that gangplank, a flag draped coffin was carried off the ship. Utter silence fell on the crowd in respect for the man.

Chatty Crone said...

What a great day to celebrate and remember. sandie

Val said...

Looks like a fantastic parade. That bald eagle photo is impressive.

Elizabeth said...

Whar a fitting celebration for those brave and courageous men. x

Sioux Roslawski said...

Thanks for posting the photos, Linda. My son's Boy Scout troop was in a truck in that parade, and had a wonderful day. They were proud, and honored, to be able to participate. I was unable to attend, so I appreciate seeing some of the highlights from your eyes.

Tammy said...

Makes me proud to be a St. Louisan!

Lynn said...

What a great event. Thanks for sharing.

Susan said...

Hi Linda...I couldn't help but cry when I saw that poor mother's face. Imagine carrying a photo of your child instead of hugging him and welcoming him back. THAT is the price of war.

I'm glad there are parades and organizations that honor the men and women who serve in this country. We have an organization like that here, too.

Take care and thanks for sharing all the great photos. Susan

Lisa Ricard Claro said...

Thank you for posting about this. If Atlanta has anything like this going on I've not heard of it, but would love to attend. Our troops deserve our full support, as do their families, who sacrifice so much. Thanks again. Wonderful post.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

These guys are amazing! If they can accomplish so much in a short time, maybe we should put them to work on the national debt.

jabblog said...

So many lives lost and blighted by such an unnecessary war is a tragedy we will have to live with for many decades. I'm glad they were honoured.

Janet, said...

What a great idea! The veterans deserved it all and more.