KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Downtown Knoxville celebrated veterans who have served or who are serving at their annual Veterans Day parade.
This is the 90th year for the parade, which began at the Knoxville Civic Auditorium and Coliseum. Stars and stripes waved up and down Gay Street, but to some it’s more than just a flag.
“Pride, honor, dignity, faith, trust, love and support,” said Army veteran George Howell.
That support meant the world on Veteran’s Day.
“It’s heartwarming. It’s nice to be thought of and appreciated for the sacrifices that you made to make this a better country,” he said.
Howell joined the army at 18 years old, then served overseas in Desert Storm as a combat engineer building bridges and roads.
“It’s a challenge not everybody can meet and I’m glad I was able to meet that. I brought all my soldiers back home and I came home myself,” he said.
Little ones even handed him notes, thankful for his many sacrifices.
“Freedom is not free. It comes at a cost,” said Howell.
Howell says he’s proud of his 22 year career in the Army and the lessons he’ll never forget.
“Even though it may be a good day, we know the obstacles are still there which one day we’ll overcome,” he said.
Kelly Reed used the parade more as a classroom for her two-year-old son Mason.
“Papa’s daddy, he was in the Navy. He was a doctor in the Navy,” she said to the little boy.
Reed says it’s an important foundation for her son.
“You have to own your country, your surroundings, your environment, and this is the best country in the world.”
There was pomp and circumstance along with somber moments at the parade.
“Hold your hand over your heart. Hold your right hand over your heart,” said the young mom.
The biggest lesson was two words that mean the world to someone who sacrificed so much.
“Can you say thank you?” asked Reed. “Thank you,” said the little boy.