The city marked several firsts on Saturday as its annual Veterans Day celebration was held for the first time on Main Street, followed by Congressman Kenny Marchant hosting a veterans fair at the Grapevine Botanical Gardens.
Veterans Day, held annually on Nov. 11, is an official U.S. holiday that honors people who have served in the Armed Forces.
Marchant, who represents the 24th Congressional District — which includes Colleyville, Grapevine and Southlake among other districts — was proud that his event featured special presentations of military decorations to a veteran and families of deceased veterans from Northeast Tarrant County.
“The three veterans earned their awards but never received them,” Marchant said, explaining that the military decorations were retrieved through the assistance of his office.
Kathleen Thompson, primary organizer of the parade, conceived of the idea of the “patriotic event to give people the opportunity to thank a soldier and to experience the strength of our community.”
Two years ago, the inaugural Veterans Day Parade here was relatively small, she said, but that didn’t detract from the importance of the event designed for reflection and celebration of those who have served in the United States armed forces.
The event was held for a second time last year at Meadowmere Park, and drew a bigger crowd.
But from the beginning, Thompson hoped to stage the venue in downtown Grapevine. Her dream was realized on Saturday.
“We are growing every year,” Thompson said, adding that the city’s Parks & Recreation Department is a key component in putting on the event.
The parade was followed by a Veterans Day Fair at the Botanical Gardens. Marchant partnered with the city, the USO and more than 20 other agencies and non-profit organizations to hold the event.
The fair is designed to assisting veterans by exposing them to the variety of available benefits, services and programs. It included a military vehicle show and a free lunch for veterans and others.
It also showcased an art show featuring pieces from The American Fallen Soldiers Project. The project was established in 2006 by local artist Phil Taylor who paints portraits of fallen soldiers and delivers the artwork to their families.
Aldy Hueber of Grapevine danced with Mayor Pro Tem C. Shane Wilbanks to live period music. Hueber came with family and friends to honor her late husband, Harold, who she met while he was stationed in the Air Force in Sioux Falls, S.D.
“You’ve got to keep moving. You have to live life. Don’t miss out on anything,” Hueber said.
Another fair-goer was Lt. Col. Brian Michel, who runs a maintenance facility in Saginaw for the National Guard.
“I appreciate what they are doing,” said Michel, who rode in the parade.
The fair included presentations of military decorations to a veteran and families of deceased veterans.
The three honorees who received decorations were: