Tempe Veterans Day parade honors servicemen, women

A spectator holds a “Thank you Veterans” sign as the of Marcos de Niza High School Junior ROTC marches down Mill Avenue during the Tempe Veterans Day parade, Monday morning. (Photo by Murphy Bannerman)

Red, white and blue lined Mill Avenue on Monday morning when thousands of people came to watch Tempe’s Veterans Day parade.

Parade chairman James Grone said when he came to the parade for the first time and saw the array of children waving their flags and cheering, he asked the chairman how he could be involved.

“A few months later, he said, ‘This is your parade,’” Grone said.

The parade has grown over the years and now begins at ASU Gammage and ends with a ceremony to honor veterans at Tempe Beach Park.

Grone said 85 percent of the parade’s marchers come from youth organizations, such as high school bands or Boy Scouts of America.

He served in the Army during the Vietnam War. When he returned from his Army tour in Vietnam, Grone did not see the same positive response that many modern veterans do.

Generally, people didn’t show much appreciation upon soldiers’ return home because they did not support what the military was doing in Vietnam, he said.

“There was not any real reception or celebration of (soldiers) back then,” Grone said.

The parade is a nice celebration where he can see everyone’s appreciation, he said.

Grone has served as the chairman of the Veterans Day parade for about 30 years now.

He said the parade has been going down Mill Avenue for as long as he can remember.

“It’s just a matter of how far it has been going,” he said.

Valerie Clauss, 19, came to the parade to watch her brother march with his Boy Scout troop.

She said this was her first year watching the parade and she enjoyed the opportunity to honor America’s soldiers.

“To me, (Veterans Day) is remembering all the people that have fought, living and dead, and honoring them,” Clauss said.

Tempe mother Melissa Valenzuela brought her sons to the parade.

“My mom used to take us to the parade when we were little, and I always enjoyed it,” she said.

This year, her sons enjoyed waving to the men driving classic cars and picking up the candy tossed from the other floats.

 

Reach the reporter at hblawren@asu.edu or follow her on Twitter @hannah_lawr