Welcome home parade honors military

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - It's Armed Forces Day. Thousands of people honored our veterans coming home from war, and those who've served in past conflicts.

It was a great opportunity for some veterans looking for career and health services they may have never known about.

It was also an emotional day for families as they remembered their kids who served for our country who they will never see again.

Everyone marched to the beat of the same drum as the parade went down Boulevard to Byrd Park. Thousands of people are welcoming home America's troops. Candy Martin never got that chance.

"We got that dreadful knock on the door that he wasn't coming home," said Martin.

She's honoring her only son, a 27-year-old sniper platoon leader, who died in friendly fire just before he was due to come home in 2007. She's an American Gold Star Mother who joined the other moms who have also lost their sons or daughters in service.

"Alot of people were trying to figure out what they were," Martin noted. "They looked quizzical. When they figured it out, we saw several burst into tears. It touched my heart."

Martin and others in the parade saw tears, heard cheers as veterans saluted their fellow servicemen men and women on the route.

The parade ended at the Carillon where veterans could take advantage of resources. There are dozens of tents where veterans can receive career advice, legal advice, and other help they may need.

The Welcome Home the Heroes Organization started out of St. Louis. It's main goal is to offer resources for veterans returning from war.

"It gives me an idea of what's in the making," said Army Veteran, Steven McAlpin. "It's amazing to see all the resources together."

"It's good," said Army Captain Avery Evans. "It's opened up some possibilities I haven't thought of.  It's nice they take time to think about people who are struggling or in between jobs right now.

That's the purpose of the parade - to be the giant vehicle that guides veterans to the resources they need so they can live their own American dream.

This is the first time Richmond has hosted a welcome home parade of this kind. The next stop is in Chicago next weekend.

Find out more information on the Welcome Home Foundation. 

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