COLUMBIA — With dogs wearing American flag-printed bandanas and whole families decked out in red, white and blue attire, there was no shortage of patriotism at Monday's 23rd annual Salute to Veterans Parade.
Grandparents sat alongside their grandchildren and mothers and fathers sat in their folding chairs, ready for the parade of bagpipers, marching bands, convertibles filled with veterans and Boy Scouts down Broadway between Eighth Street and College Avenue.
“The kids like it because they get to pick up the candy,” Columbia resident Bill Hubbard said. “We like it because of the flights that are sent overhead.”
While the air show is a crowd favorite, the paratroopers were noticeably missing from the parade landscape this year because of the weather.
“It was too windy for the paratroopers,” said parade volunteer Richard Polling. “It gets windier the higher up in the sky you go, so it was too dangerous for them to land between the buildings (on Broadway) today.”
Despite the lack of paratroopers, many parade-goers still enjoyed the other festivities.
Columbia resident Nida Baldwin and her two daughters attended the parade to see the Hickman High School Marching Band perform.
“My son is in Hickman’s marching band,” Baldwin said. “He’s playing the sax, so we came out to see him.”
Although Memorial Day is often a time for fun and family bonding, some local veterans shared other views on the holiday.
Columbia resident Paul Cross served in the Korean War for two years, and he mourns the loss of his fellow veterans on this day.
“It’s a sad day,” Cross said. “I think about all the boys who got killed.”
During the ceremony at the Boone County Courthouse, which took place after the parade, Master of Ceremonies Lt. Col. Eric Cunningham ensured that residents understood the true purpose of the holiday.
“As long as we gather here, as we do each year, they are not forgotten,” Cunningham said of the veterans honored by the holiday.
This year’s Memorial Day Message, given by Gen. Duncan J. McNabb of the Air Force, recognized members of military forces from all generations and branches, especially those currently deployed.
“This is what our veterans do,” McNabb said. “They protect our tomorrow at great risk to theirs.”
The Memorial Day celebrations also bonded Columbia residents and businesses.
Tim and Beth Mallory own and operate Mizzou Hot Dogs, a hot dog stand they often run on the weekends late at night. For the past couple of years, the Mallorys have set up their stand at the parade and have given out free hot dogs to kids.
“Giving away a few hot dogs is no big deal,” Tim Mallory said. “It’s just the American thing to do.”