PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Many Pittsburghers lined the streets on a chilly Saturday morning to honor our veterans.
More than 100,000 veterans live in Allegheny County, which is just one of the reasons Pittsburgh’s Veterans Day parade is so special.
As they marched down Liberty Avenue, veterans and veterans groups couldn’t miss Rebecca Kardell and the red, white and blue sign she was holding.
“I am thanking our veterans for their sacrifices so we can live in this country in freedom,” she said.
She was one of many people who lined the streets on a cold windy day to salute the veterans. The parade honors veterans from World Wars I and II to Afghanistan who bravely answer the call to duty.
Illa Cole, a 93-year-old World War II veteran, served as a Navy secretary in California and Hawaii. She was honored to march with a local women’s veterans group.
“It’s always wonderful,” she said.
The parade always attracts some of the area’s top high school bands playing patriotic songs. It salutes paralyzed veterans parading down the street in wheelchairs and Coast Guard members who patrol our local rivers.
“This is the only parade that is run by the City of Pittsburgh, so that means that it’s the only parade that all the officers, all the Public Works, all the permits are paid for by the people of Pittsburgh,” Mayor Bill Peduto said.
A group of Vietnam veterans from Carrick have been attending the parade every year since they returned home from the war.
“We’ve been coming down here, me and my friends, and going to the Oyster House since 1970. Our picture is in the Oyster House right now,” veteran John Hackel said.
The parade honors those who made it home, those who didn’t, and those we’ve lost after they made it back home.
Ed and Kathy Irwin came to the parade to honor their son, 37-year-old Brian Irwin. Brian served five tours in Afghanistan before returning home. His parents say he died from a drug overdose in October.
“I wish we could do more for the vets. The drugs and alcohol got the best of him,” Ed said.
Like other veterans who bravely served their country, the Irwins say their son was buried with full military honors.