Pageantry and patriotism filled the streets of Downtown Knoxville on Friday morning for the 87th annual Veterans Day Parade. The festivities featured a huge United States of America flag over Gay Street.
The biggest boon for the banner of freedom during the parade came from some smaller boots on the ground. Willmae Brown, a petite commander for the Disabled Veterans Auxiliary, truly carried the flag for veterans by walking down the sidewalk distributing free flags.
"I'm handing out flags for the DAV Auxiliary. It's just the excitement and
the thrill of doing something for the veterans. It's showing that we
care about our veterans," said Brown. "I've done this during the parade for the last 16 years and hope to do it for another 16 years."
Brown said the women of the DAV Auxiliary purchased 2,100 small USA flags at a cost of $900. She says the reaction of people she encounters while lugging the bags of flags along the sidewalks is priceless.
"They say, 'How much are they? They're free? You're kidding!' This is great," said Brown.
Brown said her late-husband was a disabled veteran of the U.S. Army. Their shared dedication to military issues drives her to continue to ensure crowds pay proper tribute to our veterans.
"My favorite part about coming down here is the veterans. Knowing they're going to be here and that people are going to be here supporting them," said Brown. "The veterans come up and hug you. I've had about six people just hugging me and saying 'thank you.'"
Brown appreciates the kind words, but insists it is those who served and sacrificed in the armed forces that deserve the real gratitude.
"If you see a young man in uniform, just say thank you. Tell them thank you for serving and being willing to give your life for our country," said Brown.
WBIR will re-broadcast the Knoxville Veterans Day Parade on Saturday, November 10, at 8:00 p.m. on 10News2.