"The direct connection is not there the way it used to be, which makes these kinds of parades all the more important to give people a chance to meet military members, and also to honor them," says James Roberts, President of the American Veterans Center.
Roberts says that even though celebrities such as Gary Sinise, Trace Atkins and Joe Mantegna will appear at the parade, the day's focus should remain on the military.
"The real stars of this (are) the military," Roberts says. "We have several hundred active duty military from all branches of the service marching in the parade and we have military bands playing."
He says veterans from World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam war and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars will march in the parade.
Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III will serve as Grand Marshal. He'll be joined by his parents Robert Griffin, Jr. and Jacqueline Griffin, both U.S. Army veterans.
Griffin has been a vocal supporter of the military throughout his college and professional careers.
The parade kicks off Memorial Day on the corner of Constitution Avenue and 7th Street in Northwest D.C. at 2 p.m., and will proceed on Constitution Avenue past the White House. It will end at Constitution Avenue and 17th Street, N.W.
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