RICHMOND, Va. - An Armed Forces Day welcome home parade in Richmond has honored returning Iraq War veterans.
Thousands of people turned out for Saturday's parade, which ended with a free outdoor concert and what organizers call a veterans' resource exposition. Active-duty personnel and veterans from all military service branches marched in the parade alongside high school marching bands, Army and Air Force units and the Marine Band.
"I'm absolutely thrilled that everybody took the time out to support the military," said Army staff Sgt. Jason Harich, a parade participant who has served two tours each in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"In my 17 years, I have never seen an event like this, and I am honored and thrilled that it is being done," Harich said. "This is how I like to see our community, together as one."
Parade spectator Pat Brooks of Henrico County wore ribbons in patriotic colors and carried a placard that said "Thank You."
"Freedom is so important," she said. "I don't think we think about it very much, but they give their all for us, to keep the country safe."
Retired Marine Col. Wesley L. Fox served as the parade's grand marshal.
Booths were set up at a resource center at Byrd Park offering information on topics such as employment opportunities, lawyers and counseling services.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch (( http://bit.ly/JGj7s0) reports The Welcome Home The Heroes Parade was modeled after one held in January in St. Louis.
Information from: Richmond Times-Dispatch, http://www.timesdispatch.com
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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