“We figured that if St. Louis could do it, we could do it,” said Conor Kenny, the event’s head organizer. “This plan was hatched over beers one night, and that’s when we decided to do this whole thing.”
The team of Austinites that organized the event is expecting a wide range of people to participate in the parade, reflecting the diversity and “weirdness” of Austin.
But Kenny and other event organizers want to make sure the parade is not just a symbolic gesture, and that the vets glean something practical from the event as well.
“The Welcome Home Iraq Parade in Austin is unlike most of the ones in other cities, in that we are doing a job and resource fair for veterans,” Kenny said.
Over 100 employers will be on hand, ranging from non-profits to government organizations to local businesses.
“This is a way for our community to let these guys know that we are here for them, that we support them, and that we are grateful for their service,” said Kenny. “A lot of these guys are hurting in ways beyond just physical, and it’s very important, and we know this after talking to many of the veterans … that we are here for them.”