Thousands honor veterans at Columbia's annual parade

By Stephen Hooker - email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Families, friends and residents came out to support those who served the country at the 32nd annual Veterans Day parade in downtown Columbia. Thousands of marching soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen and bands were out to mark the special day.

Officer candidate Christian Spencer and his family had a great view. Young Wyatt may follow dad into the army someday. "What's veterans day all about?" asked Spencer. "Paying our respects by saying thank you for serving our country in time of war, right?"

The display of respect and honor filled Sumter street for more than an hour. Veterans, families and friends of veterans, and future veterans watched, clapped and cheered.

Johnnie Williams, a veteran of two wars, summed it up. "A lot of history behind this, a lot of good people went through before us," said Williams.

Some in Williams' group are veterans and some are not, but all wanted to experience the parade. "I've seen it before in different cities so I know a little bit what to expect and that's why listening at it is just so nice," said Williams.

Williams served in Vietnam and desert storm, but he's fought another battle during the past few years -- blindness. "I can kind of visualize in my mind of what I'm listening at," he said.

Williams' group is from the commission of the blind, on a field trip learning non-sight skills to help launch back into the job market.

"I think about all the people that I was in service with, different places, different times," said Williams. "The ones that no longer with us, the ones that I know got hurt, got killed, I think about them, I think about all of them."

Williams and other veterans remembered the bad times, but also the good times. "I wouldn't want to do it again, but I wouldn't give anything for that experience," he said. "I had a great time in the military, all of it wasn't bad. A lot of it was fun."

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