Thousands Attend 25th Annual Phoenix Veterans Parade
Thousands of people lined the streets of downtown Thursday for the 25th annual Phoenix Veterans Parade.
It was one of many Veterans Day events held in the valley, which included parades in Surprise and Mesa. The Phoenix Parade had nearly 80 entries and a theme of “Waving the Flag of Freedom”.
The event took place virtually in 2020 due to COVID-19. A group of healthcare workers were the community’s grand marshals in this year’s parade, having been honored by organizers for their services during the pandemic.
Seven veterans served as grand marshals in the parade, including 98-year-old WWII veteran Edward Chan.
Chan was a US Air Force bomber and flew 35 sorties over Nazi Germany during the war, according to a biography provided by parade host Honoring America’s Veterans.
âIt means a lot,â Chan told The Arizona Republic, when asked to be a Grand Marshal.
He was joined on Thursday by his daughter, Kathleen Chan, who said her father had not spoken much about his military experience until recent years.
âHe didn’t think his service was anything special,â she said. “It was something everyone should do, it was planned. He didn’t think about it, he didn’t think it was a big deal.”
Kathleen Chan worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals for 32 years. She was teary-eyed as she described the honor she feels of serving those who sacrificed themselves for the United States.
âI loved the veterans, I wouldn’t have worked anywhere else in the world and had a lot of opportunities to do it,â she said. “They give so much for us, for our country, for our freedom and for the freedom of people around the world.”
Women have a “special place” in the military, say veterans
Col. Christine Mahon, a Desert Storm veteran who served as a nurse in the U.S. Army Reserve for 33 years, said she cried when she received a phone call in September asking if she would be a grand marshal in the parade.
âI was so honored – it really is a pleasure to do it,â said Mahon.
She added that it was especially important for her to represent female veterans, who make up 10% of the total US veteran population.
Mahon, who came from a military family, met a US Army Reserve nurse when he was a graduate student at Arizona State University in the early 1970s. She decided to follow the same path, thinking it would only be until she graduated.
Mahon was appointed chief nurse at the 403rd Combat Support Hospital in Phoenix from 1989 to 1992, during which time she was sent to Saudi Arabia, according to Honoring America’s Veterans.
After the region suffered missile attacks, Mahon helped establish a hospital that treated 139 patients in its emergency room and performed more than 80 life-saving surgeries during his tour, the organization wrote in its biography. The hospital was the only one to support the 7th Corps during the ground war and treated a third of its wounded.
Decades later, Mahon is grateful for making the life-changing decision.
âThese are the people you serve and the people you get to know, the friendships that last 40 years,â said Mahon. “I still see some of my army buddies and it’s very, very true – they’re your buddies forever.”
Also in attendance Thursday was Tiffany Carrington-Maurice, 38, a U.S. Air Force veteran who served during Operation Enduring Freedom between 2001 and 2007.
Carrington-Maurice said it was important for her to pay tribute to her fellow veterans, many of whom fought for her freedom and that of others before she was born.
She grew up in a military family and said service was “in my blood”.
âWhen you are on the front line and you serve you know there is a purpose behind it, you know you have people in your country who depend on you for their safety,â she said. . “It was nothing frivolous – you knew you had meaning here on Earth and you knew you had people at home to protect.”
Carrington-Maurice said she was “absolutely proud” to be a woman in the military. She is encouraged by the fact that women have become eligible for more military jobs over the years, as the frontline combat integration, which started in 2013.
âWe have a lot of brave women here who are ready to fight for our country,â she said. “I think there is a special place for us in this male dominated world, domain, service.”
“It’s for them, because they are the future”
Melissa Inman’s parents took her to Veterans Day parades when she was a child. Now 45, she brought her own children with her on Thursday to relay the same message her parents instilled in her.
âDespite what may happen in our country, just have pride and love for where I live,â she said. “I want my kids to have the same experience, I want them to have the same feelings.”
Inman described the parade as a unifying force that helps bring people from all walks of life together.
âI don’t think anyone on this street believes the same politically, religiously, anything – but we all have a love and respect for the place we live and the people who work to protect it,â said she declared.
Carrington-Maurice was encouraged by the number of children in the crowd.
“That’s it for them, because they are the future,” she said. âWe want to make sure they’re safe and sound, and we’re willing to risk our lives for that. I love to see the kids here waving the flags and excited to see the floats and the tanks and everything. there for a reason: it is there to protect all our people, but especially our children. “
Mahon, who was joined on the parade by her grandchildren, agreed.
âIt’s really important for them to understand that Veterans Day is not just a sale in a furniture store or a flag, that we are free because of the brave,â she said. âWhen you think about what people really did in the fight to save us, to give us this opportunity, it’s a huge honor to be here and a lesson for our children to learn.â
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