By Petty Officer 1st Class John Smolinski
NPASE Detachment Southast
City of Jacksonville (CoJ) honors veterans and active-duty service members during the 2016 Veterans Day Parade downtown, Nov. 11.
This patriotic parade features more than 3,500 participants including grand marshals, senior military officials, active- duty and retired military units, veterans groups, local high school marching bands, military organizations, decorative floats, giant balloons, JROTC units and more.
"Through the good times, bad times, ups and downs, there has been one constant," said Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry. "That is the men and women willing to put on the uniform on do the hard work that most of won't do. So, we can pursue our dreams and opportunities and express ourselves the way we see fit. Today, I want to express my respect and gratitude for all the veterans of the United States military."
Since taking office in July 2015, Curry and CoJ's Military and Veterans Affairs Department, through initiatives like Jobs for Veterans and Resources and Reintegration System, have worked with 360 local businesses to help transitioning military members find housing and employment in Jacksonville.
"I can think of no other city in the nation that appreciates and respects our Sailors veterans more than Jacksonville," Said Capt. Sean Haley, commanding officer of Naval Air Station Jacksonville. "It's an honor for me to join Mayor Lenny Curry and the entire city in honoring our veterans today."
Jacksonville hosts the largest Veterans Day parade in Florida and is considered to be one of the largest in the U.S.
"We live in a city that recognizes and honors its more than 150,000 veterans and 50,000 active duty men and women, our citizen soldiers of the guard and reserves with observances and ceremonies throughout the year," said Bill Spann, director of Military Affairs and Veterans Department at CoJ. "But today is a special day. We will never forget the sacrifices that have been made by those who've serve and served."
Capt. David Yoder, Naval Station Mayport commanding officer said that it was a great experience representing Naval Station Mayport.
"During the parade, I was truly inspired by the turn out of people throughout the entire city of Jacksonville who came out to thank our active duty and veterans for their service to our country," said Yoder.
CoJ's Veterans Day Parade is a part of the city's "Week of Valor" events that brings together the city of Jacksonville and the military communities in the local area.