The streets in downtown Des Moines will be filled with veterans Saturday morning. The event is titled “A Salute to Our Veterans and Service Members Parade.”
Retired Colonel Robert King, the chief organizer of the parade, is expecting to see a large crowd and thousands of veterans from around Iowa. “This is one of the largest parades that I’ve seen in Des Moines in a long, long time,” King said.
“Twenty-one years ago, we brought all the Guard troops home (from the first Iraq war) and had a large parade through downtown Des Moines, but this is going to rival that easily.” According to Iowa National Guard, there are nearly 230,000 veterans in Iowa and more than 15,000 Iowans who are current members of the military.
Plans for the parade were first announced in late April, but King said he’s been astounded by the outpouring of support. Private donations are financing the event. In addition to veterans and service members, the parade will include various military groups, battalions, bands, the Budweiser Clydesdales and other corporate entries.
“The parade will begin at 10 a.m. at the Capitol complex when four F16 jets from the 132 Fighter Wing based at the Des Moines Airport come streaking over the Capitol and go down over Grand Avenue,” King said. The parade will march from the state capitol, west on Grand Avenue, then turn north up 2nd Avenue.
It will end at Veterans Memorial Auditorium. A riderless horse will lead the parade participants – a traditional entry to represent fallen soldiers. State officials have said the parade will also pay tribute to the 60th anniversary of the Korean War and the 50th anniversary of the start of the Vietnam War.
By Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City