America Supports You: Cities Carry ASY Banner to Honor Past, Present Vets
By Carmen L. Burgess
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 8, 2006 Veterans of the U.S. military will be recognized this weekend during parades, concerts and ceremonies throughout the nation. In addition to honoring those of the past, many people will also honor those of the present.
Eight cities sprinkled throughout the nation are displaying their support for today’s military at home and abroad by carrying America Supports You banners in their Veterans Day parades.
America Supports You is a nationwide program launched by the Department of Defense in 2004 to recognize U.S. support for military servicemembers. Cities participating in carrying the ASY banner include: Birmingham, Ala.; Emporia, Kan.; Columbus, Ohio; Ponca City, Okla.; Albany, Ore.; Atlanta, Houston and Milwaukee.
“Carrying an ASY banner makes an important statement to our troops,” said Columbus parade organizer Bob Mullins. “Politicians may have divided the nation when it comes to supporting this war -- and this gets back to our troops -- but it’s important to drive the point home that we support them no matter what.”
Mullins, who spent 26 years in the military, said that Columbus’ Veterans Day parade also will include active-duty troops who have served in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“We need to remember to include both former and active-duty military in Veterans Day celebrations,” he said. “It’s an educational experience for all involved.”
School groups, church organizations and high school Junior ROTC cadets have volunteered to carry the banner through downtown streets in front of thousands of spectators.
More than 30,000 are expected to attend the festivities in Birmingham, event organizer Bill Voight said. The city has long been a supporter of military veterans by holding parades for seven years before the day was nationally recognized in 1954. “We want to express out gratitude to those who have and are daily put their lives on the line for our freedom,” Voight said.
Vietnam veteran Marvin Myers, president of Georgia’s Veterans Day celebration, said that the volunteer turn out for Atlanta’s parade has been overwhelming because everyone wants to show their support to the nation’s veterans.
“There is a special feeling people get in being part of Veterans Day festivities,” Myers said. “We are all honored to be in (veterans’) presence.”