RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - It's our chance to say thank you to the hundreds of thousands of troops who've served in Iraq, now coming home. A huge Welcome Home Parade will march to Byrd Park next month.
Veterans Robin Beres and Mike Dunham are organizing the patriotic event set for Saturday, May 19th, Armed Forces Day. The parade will begin at the intersection of Boulevard and Kensington at 10 a.m., and run to the Carillon at Byrd Park.
"Sure, we've stopped now and then to grieve when we see pictures of flag-draped coffins, or cheer when we see medal-of-honor winners. But, we've never really set a day aside to say thank you," said Beres, who served as a chief petty officer in the U.S. Navy.
The pair hopes the homecoming will draw at least 100,000 veterans and thankful supporters.
"While we're going about our business, they're missing Christmas and Easter. They're missing the birth of their children," reminds Beres.
There will also be a veterans resource village at the Carillon. Troops can get all kinds of information on services available to them. A free outdoor concert will also follow the parade.
However, the main mission to be accomplished is a show of gratitude, for an incredible sacrifice in a war that lasted nearly ten years.
"They're a much smaller number of people (referring to those who have served in the military), but they're still going there because we asked them as a country to go there," said Dunham, a retired master sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve.
Organizers are still hoping to raise $25,000 more to fund the event. So far, they say donors have been very generous, with fundraising totaling $50,000. However, police, traffic control, insurance and rental fees still need to be covered. Donations can be made through http://americaforvets.org, by clicking on the Richmond link.