Despite the gloomy weather, Sarah Zimmet brought her 3-year-old son Oscar to cheer on veterans in Monday’s annual Veterans Day parade in Boston.
“He is just kind of learning about what the army is, what soldiers are doing, and the service that they give to our country. So I just wanted him to see it and understand what it’s all about,” Zimmet said.
After a State House ceremony, veterans walked in a colorful procession from Boston Common to City Hall Plaza, marching in time to the beat of songs including “God Bless America” and “You’re a Grand Old Flag.”
Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, Boston Police Commissioner William Gross, and Massachusetts Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs Francisco Urena led the veterans down the streets as spectators cheered.
“Today is a day of celebration to remember their sacrifices,” Walsh said. “Many of them gave the ultimate sacrifice of losing their life defending our country.”
Jodie Pajak, a third-generation veteran, was part of the procession. She said she felt more appreciated Monday than her father ever did after serving in Vietnam.
“I feel like the community is behind us. To come out here and have people stand on the sides [of the streets] and say thank you is a wonderful thing. I’m very proud to represent our country and make sure that women veterans are also recognized,” said Pajak, a Navy veteran.
Anthony Russo, a homeless veteran from Portland, Maine, said, “It’s a great feeling to know that there are people here who believe in us. We’re not heroes, we’re just everyday people that stood up for something we believed in.”
Earlier, in the State House’s Memorial Hall, Governor Charlie Baker urged people to remember the sacrifices made by military members.
“It’s incredibly important for us, as those who benefit. . . to not only express gratitude on days like this, but to honor those who serve and do all we can to make sure we are there for the veterans and their families,” Baker said.
Baker was joined by Gross and Urena, as well as US Senator Edward Markey and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey.
“I’m the one who should be standing and clapping for you,” Baker said to a standing ovation from the gathered veterans. “There is no democracy without the sacrifice of our servicemen and women and their families.”
Patriotic tunes from Massachusetts State Police bagpipers filled the hall as Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard members marched in step. A 21-gun salute reverberated as veterans stood at attention.
“It’s awesome to be recognized by Governor Baker and Francisco Urena,” said Neysa Wright, an Army veteran. “It has a whole lot of meaning because there are five generations of veterans in my family, starting from my great-grandfather.”Alyssa Lukpat can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @AlyssaLukpat.