Since the conclusion of Operation Iraqi Freedom in December of last year, there have been many calls to honor OIF veterans with a “welcome home” parade either in Washington, D.C. or New York City. The administration along with the Pentagon decided to hold off on such an event, citing the fact that troops are still deployed in Afghanistan. Rather, they encouraged folks to hold local events in their hometowns across the country. President Obama also held a black-tie dinner at the White House for a few hundred veterans in late February.
“We understand the administration and Pentagon's decision to not hold a traditional ticker-tape parade for our veterans at this time, with troops still in harm’s way in Afghanistan,” said Tim Holbert, Executive Director of the American Veterans Center.
“At the same time, the public strongly desires - and needs - the opportunity to honor those who served so nobly in Iraq, and to remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.”
As a result, the American Veterans Center, organizers of the National Memorial Day Parade, has decided that the "grand finale" of the 2012 National Memorial Day Parade will be designated a tribute to the sacrifices of the Iraq war generation.
The parade is also partnering with Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) to extend invitations to all veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan who are able to participate to come to Washington to be a part of the parade and walk down Constitution Avenue in honor of their comrades from this generation who made the ultimate sacrifice. This will likely be the only time in the near future that the public will have the opportunity to thank those who served in Iraq, and to come together to pay tribute to those who fell.
The parade will take place Monday, May 28 at 2:00 PM in Washington, D.C. Special guests include Grand Marshal and legendary pilot Chuck Yeager as well as actors and military supporters Gary Sinise and Joe Mantegna, Mantegna, Miss America 2012 Laura Kaeppeler, and many others.
Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan who would like to participate can register at the parade’s Official Web Site, where they can also find all relevant information about the event.
Please help get the word out so that as many of our brave Veterans as possible become aware of this unique opportunity.