Austinites cheered and saluted war veterans and members of the Armed Forces during the annual Veterans Day Parade on Congress Avenue this morning.
Jim Torres served in Thailand as an Air Force building engineer during the Vietnam War. He politely smiles, as people shake his hand to thank him for his service. But he says his comrades in arms that deserve it more.
“I was a veteran for two years but these guys are heroes to me personally," Torres told KUT News during this morning's parade. "Everybody tells me you’re a veteran too but I was inside and I was being guarded by them within the bases where I worked at.”
People held banners of support and waved American flags, as groups of veterans and military units marched past. Scott Sanders was in the Navy from 1975 to 82. He says he was grateful to see the crowd.
“You come out here and honoring everyone, past and present, for giving us what we got, you know, the right to speak freely, the right to do as we choose basically. That’s what it means to me mostly, is freedom," Sanders said.
The parade ended at the State Capitol, near the site of a new display that opened today. The exhibit at the Capitol Visitors Center profiles Texas veterans through voice. The Texas Veterans Land Board collected oral histories from those who served, like August Ciriello. He and his family immigrated to the United States from Italy when he was seven years old. After Pearl Harbor was attacked, Ciriello was drafted and stationed at Fort Hood. He ended up in France after D-Day in 1944.
“Just after we crossed the Rhine River…and…after a process of elimination, I went from a tail gunner to a squad leader. Wow. And then from then on I was a squad leader till Czechoslovakia," Ciriello said.
The oral histories can be heard online at the Texas Veterans Land Board website. The exhibit is open for the next year.