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America Supports You: Indy 500 Festival Parade Salutes Troops

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

INDIANAPOLIS, May 26, 2007 – Patriotism was on display during today’s 50th annual Indy 500 Festival Parade in downtown Indianapolis. People showed support for their country and their troops when patriotic displays and military parade participants marched past. 

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Indiana University cheerleaders carry an America Supports You banner during the 50th Indy 500 Festival Parade on May 26, 2007. Servicemembers were prominently featured throughout the parade. Defense Dept. photo by Samantha L. Quigley
  

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Cheerleaders from Indiana University carried a banner heralding the Defense Department’s America Supports You program, which proclaimed that “We Support You – Our Military Men and Women.” Parade announcers told the crowd about the program, which connects citizens and corporations with military personnel and their families serving at home and abroad. The announcers invited people in the crowd to support the troops.

The type of appreciation shown by the parade-goers lifts the spirits of servicemembers, and the crowd’s reaction is a real morale boost, said Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Dorian Sweatt.

“You have a smile on your face and … you’re just happy that you’re taking care of them and keeping them safe,” Sweatt, an aircraft mechanic stationed at NAS Indianapolis, said. “It kind of makes you feel good, kind of makes you feel like a celebrity a little bit.”

Members of a joint color guard were certainly treated as celebrities as they marched the Stars and Stripes along the parade route. People cheered for them and showed their support.

“It brought tears to my eyes. I took my hat off and saluted them,” said Ted Bruington, a retired schoolteacher from Cameron, Ill. “I think it’s just great that everyone stood and honored the flag, and honored our men and women that gave us all these freedoms that we enjoy today.”

More Americans need to understand the importance of the sacrifices troops are making, Bruington said. ”This younger crowd has got to realize that we’re fighting for a cause and that’s their freedom and their future,” he said.

Feelings of patriotism were even more evident as the American Legion float, “Heroes to Hometowns,” rolled past.

“Those guys are fighting for our country and it’s just a sense of pride,” Julie Krizan of Brownsburg, Ind., said. “We know how brave they are.”

She said she has a true appreciation for all servicemembers, and she learned that early on from her father after her uncle was killed fighting in Guam.

“I just grew up knowing that my father’s brother had been killed fighting for the country,” she said. “My dad just always taught me that you respect them and that you are proud of them no matter where they’re at or where they’re fighting because they’re representing our country.”

The lesson Krizan learned as a child is still being taught to young Hoosiers. Curtis Carey, 13, said he’d like to thank the nation’s military men and women for serving the country. “We appreciate everything they’re doing,” he said.

His buddy, Sean Hahnen, 13, said he, too, was grateful for the troops.

“I’m glad that they’re here for us,” Hahnen said. “They do so much for us and without them our country would be nothing. In them you can find the real American.”

The two are Boy Scouts with Troop 359 from Noblesville, Ind., and had helped set up for the parade.

The parade also featured the Indiana Army National Guard’s 38th Division band. A group of servicemembers from each service also carried giant red, white and blue flags in the parade.

The procession passed through Monument Circle in the center of Indianapolis, which features a large obelisk. The spire honors Revolutionary War veterans. It’s just one of many monuments dotting the city that honors war veterans.

The military tribute will continue tomorrow during pre-race festivities at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Event planners are hoping that, as it did today, that the sun shines on Indianapolis.

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Related Sites:
America Supports You
American Legion

Click photo for screen-resolution imageA joint service color guard marches the Stars and Stripes and all of the service flags through downtown Indianapolis during the 50th Indy 500 Festival Parade on May 26, 2007. Servicemembers, prominently featured in the event, rode on floats and carried red, white and blue banners. Defense Dept. photo by Samantha L. Quigley  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageThe American Legion’s float, “Heroes to Hometowns,” featured servicemembers who have served in the global war on terrorism. The crowd gathered in downtown Indianapolis for the 50th Indy 500 Festival Parade on May 26, 2007, enthusiastically welcomed the troops. Defense Dept. photo by Samantha L. Quigley  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageThe Indiana Army National Guard’s 38th Division Band entertained the crowd gathered in downtown Indianapolis for the 50th Indy 500 Festival Parade on May 26, 2007. Defense Dept. photo by Samantha L. Quigley  
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