Welcome home parade held for Iraq war vets

Event designed to show our gratitude

HOUSTON - Thousands turned out Saturday for the city of Houston's welcome home parade for the men and women who served in Iraq. The event was to show veterans our gratitude.

Family members of soldiers who were killed in the war were also on hand.

The parade began at the intersection of Texas Avenue and San Jacinto Street ended at Minute Maid Park, where an on-field ceremony took place before the Astros game.

"Houston has one of the largest veterans populations in the country. This is our opportunity as Houstonians to come forward and not do something we do every year, and not do something that is routine, but a special opportunity to say thank you to veterans who served in Iraq and are now coming home," Houston Mayor Annise Parker said.

Local 2 anchor Bill Balleza, who is a Vietnam War veteran, was the emcee.

"America and our military have always had a special place in the heart of baseball fans throughout the country and especially here in Houston," Astros owner Jim Crane said, "It's only fitting that we will celebrate these brave men and women with a parade that culminates with a ceremony at Minute Maid Park. We are honored to be asked by Mayor Parker and the City to be a part of this special event."

One couple went out to support the veterans, including their son.

"We do this every time they come home," said the woman.

"It was great for the city of Houston to recognize our veterans, to recognize us for the sacrifices we've accomplished," said one veteran.

As for the soldiers still fighting in Afghanistan, Parker promised a parade for them when the time comes.

"I am looking forward to the day when we can say thanks to those who have been in Afghanistan, as well," Parker said.

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