Students lined the streets by the elementary and high schools in Petersburg Thursday, holding signs and flags honoring local veterans who paraded by in their vehicles. The annual gathering moved outdoors as the community endures its worst outbreak of the COVID pandemic.
Veterans and their families lined up near the elementary school in trucks and cars displaying American flags with some in uniform.
Tony Vinson served in the Navy from 1988-1992 and worked on a Marine Corps base following that.
“I’m proud and I think of all the new ones that are coming in because I have little cousin found out he graduated Marine Corps boot camp yesterday,” Vinson said. “And so I think it’s pretty big for all the generations to go through something, experience something bigger than yourself. I’m kind of proud of that.”
Both Tony and his wife Traci served in the Navy. They have three sons, one in the Coast Guard, one in the Army and a third in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps for the Air Force.
Tommy Fisher served in the Army in 2004-2005 in operation Iraqi Freedom. He thinks about the people he fought beside who’ve died but said it’s good to gather with other veterans.
“Yeah it heals the heart a little bit because you get with other people that have been through the same thing,” Fisher said.
In a nearby car is Dave Burleigh. He served in the Army from 1969-1972, did two tours in Vietnam and was a door gunner on a helicopter.
“Of course when I got home I didn’t even want to tell anybody I was in the service because we weren’t accepted very well,” Burleigh said. “My first year up here, I’ve lived here for eight years now but I got here just before Veterans Day and I went to the first, the first year I got here and there was only like eight veterans at the assembly. So I started telling everyone, you gotta go these kids are putting on a great show and I think it’s really important to be here for them when they make the effort.”
Local school students have honored those who served the country in different ways over the past couple decades. This year’s parade started with a middle school band and ended at the high school with that school’s band.
Veterans also were given handmade quilts in red, white and blue.
The local group Rain Country Quilters has now completed and given out 108 Quilts of Valor, as a part of a national program. Some high school students have helped with those during an annual day of service.