The Tarrant County Veteran’s Day parade was held Thursday, Nov. 11 beginning at 11 am. This year marked the 102nd annual event. The theme for this year was “Battlefront at Home… Saluting our Veterans and First Responders.” The parade was organized by the Tarrant County Veterans Council (TCVC). This annual Veterans Day Parade honors all of America’s veterans and their service to the country.
This year’s Grand Marshal was Shannon Spake with the National League of POW/MIA Families. Color Guard was provided by Fort Worth ISD Corps Honor Guard and the Southlake Police Department. TAPS was performed by Sgt. Bill Fischer of the Marine Corps League.
The U.S. Army Parachute Team, The Golden Knights, jumped into Heritage Park, with chutes featuring the American flag and red, white, and blue smoke to kick off this special Veterans Day salute in Fort Worth. The Knights are one of the most awe-inspiring parachuting competitors and demonstration teams in the world. They were followed about 30 minutes later by a military flyover and the Bells of Peace.
Bells of Peace is a remembrance of WWI veterans and the moment that no more gunfire could be heard. Bells tolled on the Western Front to announce this armistice, which occurred on November 11, 1918, around 11 am. Bells of Peace was created in collaboration with the Society of the Honor Guard and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (SHGTUS) to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of this World War I Armistice, which was on November 11, 2018. The sponsoring entity, The Doughboy Foundation, has since promoted it as an annual remembrance.
After the bells, “Taps” was played, and a 21-gun salute announced the beginning of the festivities in Fort Worth.
“I've planned a lot of the operations around with the [Horse] Detachment. I coordinate events around the Texas area and around the country,” said First Lieutenant John Trainor with the First Cavalry Division of the Golden Knights out of Ft. Hood, who works with the ground crew.
“I also take care of a lot of the coordination within the detachment, making sure we have the correct postures and really just making sure everyone's squared away with it,” he said.
The parade featured a range of different organizations, such as high school marching bands, Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) units, the Horse Detachment of the 1st Cavalry Division from Fort Hood, and many civic organizations that benefit veterans.
There was also a wide range of ethnicities and foreigners that came out for the festivities.
Ignacio Cruz came with his wife, Irinea, and two exchange students, who were from Germany and France. Cruz is also a veteran.
“I served seven years in the Marines, and 11 in the Army.," said Cruz. This parade means a lot to me, and that's why I like to do this every year. I started hosting [exchange students] three years ago, with two students a year from Europe. I like this especially because I can’t continue with the military anymore because of injuries. So, I like to share the freedom that we enjoy here in the United States,” Cruz said.
One of the students Cruz is hosting is Chloe Louis, who is from France.
“I think we study about USA in France, and I wanted to see how [it] was to live here. America is very powerful and influences all over the world. I have never seen a parade before and I find it amazing,” said Louis.
Fellow exchange student Julia Huber, who is from Berlin, Germany, said, “First of all, I've never seen a parade like this. We don't have that in Germany, and to see all those people who appreciate the veterans and the military is cool.”
“I think since I was five, I wanted to do an exchange here. Then over the years in middle school, and then in high school, I always say I want to do it. My family and I always traveled a lot. And over the years, this dream got bigger and bigger. And then I think two or three years ago, my mom, my dad, and me got information. And then two years ago, we decided which organization I'm going [to work with] to get to here. It was a lot of paperwork. We decided on the International Leadership of Texas. I am a junior,” Huber said.
“I came out today because we have over 5,000 cadets in the Fort Worth Independent School District, which consist of 15 High School Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) programs and 20 Middle school programs that we call Junior Cadet Corps (JCC). And so, this is a chance to show not only community service community support, but their patriotism and their citizenship,” said John Crossley, Jr., Lt. Col. US Army (Ret) and Director of Army Instruction at FWISD.
“Some of the cadets have the servant heart and the JROTC instructors are role models for them. So, they aspire to go into the military and serve in uniform. But the other point you could serve in community leadership, which is just as important as leadership in our Armed Services. So that is what the JROTC does for those who want to go into the armed services. But we're all citizens. And so, citizenship values, by showing respect for those who have voluntarily taken an oath to serve this contract constitution is just as important as young leaders showing their support. And that is why they're all here.
“The JROTC program nationally is a citizenship program, and the motto, the mission is to motivate young people to be better citizens. And you get better by getting involved. And so, this is the first parade for a lot of these kids or their first Veteran Parade. And now, they're blown away, and to then see others like themselves. And that's just like a team. You're part of something larger.
“I was here making sure that the joint Color Guard was in place, getting all of these buses in and getting the cadets unloaded and providing information into their lineup. I’m sort of like an air traffic controller. That was my role today. But normally I would march along and then I would be up on the stand as they pass by to call out what unit was passing. whether it was the Panther Battalion from Pascoe or the Wildcat Battalion from Dunbar or the Steel Battalion from Northside. That is my roll call out the cadet leaders because each one of them has leadership in their battalion, from Commander to Battalion Sergeant Major squad leaders.
“This is part of developing them. They are leaders. I call them our young leaders. A leader, according to John Maxwell, is anyone who makes things better. And so, they are leaders because they're making things better. You don't need a title. You don't need a position. You’re a leader if you're improving things,” Crossley said.