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Parade, spectators honor veterans (video)

Keldy  Ortiz

By Keldy Ortiz
Nov. 10, 2012 at 5:10 a.m.
Updated Nov. 11, 2012 at 5:11 a.m.

Gerald Swanger and other veterans stand with flags to be blessed in front of the Victoria County Courthouse on Saturday morning. The veterans then placed the flags at area cemeteries in honor of and remembrance of veterans who have died.

Dressed in his Army uniform, Bruno Valderrama walked down Main Street with fellow war veterans Saturday morning.

While observing the crowd, Valderrama said he couldn't help but notice the roar of applause when people saw what he was wearing. He said he wanted to take a different approach during this year's Veterans Day parade and was happy to do so.

"We just want to relate to people the uniforms we wore" at that time, said Valderrama, who was in the Army during the Vietnam War. "We do this to make sure people don't forget the names on the (Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.)

It didn't look as though Victoria residents wanted to miss Saturday's parade either, as hundreds lined the parade route downtown to say hello to veterans and to view the 80 parade entries.

Showing support for the veterans was active military member Rick Longoria.

Longoria, who joined the military in 2009, said he has far more appreciation now for soldiers who were in combat before him. Since being stationed in Fort Jackson, S.C., and having traveled to Arizona, Maryland and Washington, Longoria has spent most of his time away from family.

While he has not yet been deployed overseas, he understands becoming part of the military is not a easy task.

"It takes a lot of heroism to leave your family and serve America," Longoria said, as people approached him to congratulate him for serving in the military. "It brings tears to my eyes to see people show this kind of support."

Longoria was not alone Saturday, as he brought his two daughters Jazlynn, 8, and Oliva, 5, to watch the festivities.

"It's cool," said Jazlynn about her father in the military. "He's awesome, and God's going to bless him more."

Longoria said he brought his children to see other military members.

Trise Cribbs, however, used the parade as a learning tool for her daughter and grandchildren.

Cribbs said most of her family has been in the military. Though she travels to places such as Fort Hood with her daughter so she can see what military life is like, she said at times she doesn't understand.

"I want them to know that these people died to make us free," Cribbs said. "It's good for the kids to learn this."

At the end of the parade, as he walked off to rejoin his friends, Valderrama said he appreciates getting recognition for serving time in the military, but he doesn't want anyone to lose sight of others who did not survive to walk in the parade.

"Some of us have been lucky," said. "We were able to raise our kids and some didn't."



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