Rain or shine, spectators gather for Veterans Day Parade in Wilmington
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Despite rainy weather, all branches of the military were cheered on at the annual Southeast North Carolina Veterans Day Parade in downtown Wilmington.
“The welcome home that Vietnam veterans got was not very good. So 2017 we decided we needed to have a parade, initially for Vietnam veterans to get that welcome home that they never got. It quickly grew into all veterans. And so we celebrate today all veterans,” said Mark Biddison, Air Force veteran and chairman of the Southeast North Carolina Veterans Day parade.
He says seeing the veterans enjoy the parade is encouraging. He also says the parade is raising money for suicide awareness.
“Veteran suicide awareness is paramount and prevention is really where we’d like to go. We lose about 16 veterans a day nationwide.”
Biddison said the parade takes a full year to plan with meetings once a month, then every two weeks leading up to the parade. He says all donations will be given to “Save A Vet.” The link to donate can be found on this website.
For other veterans like Niko Bouboulis, the parade provides a chance to connect with other people who have served.
“The most important thing is giving love and respect to those that served. On Memorial Day we will moralize the ones that have passed. We celebrate Veterans Day for those of us that are still around and still above ground. And just shake a hand, give a couple hugs, share a couple tears with each other and go on with life,” said Bouboulis.
The parade featured a performance from the U.S. Naval Academy’s Silent Drill Team. Local law enforcement agencies also participated in the parade and interacted with members of the community.
“Those of us that come out here like I said earlier, we do it for the love of country. The love and respect of our brothers and sisters. Now. The ones that have served the ones in the past and the ones that are coming up behind us,” said Bouboulis.
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