*CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly spelled Reed Hickam's name.
COLUMBIA — Tim Wiyria turns 63 on Monday, but he’ll celebrate more than another candle on his cake on his birthday.
He’ll celebrate his two brothers, his nephew, several of his friends and others like him — veterans.
Clad in a Navy jacket and hat, both decorated in pins and patches that recognize his service from 1969 to 1972, Wiyria was stationed near the roundabout in front of MU’s Francis Quadrangle on Sunday afternoon for the MU Joint ROTC Annual Veterans Day Parade. He’s been coming to the parade for more than 10 years now.
"I come out to support our veterans. I have a lot of honor and pride for them," he said.
Although Wiyria served in the Navy, he said he viewed all of the branches of the military with the same respect.
"A lot of guys get caught up with Army, Navy and all that, but military is military, and we should all support each other," he said.
In addition to the groups of ROTC students marching in unison, Sunday's parade featured the Boone County Fire Protection District’s pipe and drum band, World War II-era jeeps, antique convertibles and groups of motorcyclists who rode in support of veterans.
The Patriot Guard Riders, one of the motorcycle groups, don't often participate in parades. According to the local chapter's senior ride captain, Reed Hickam, the group's emphasis is helping veterans in concrete ways, whether fixing a local veteran's water heater or escorting a soldier's body to his or her final resting place.
"Our mission is to stand behind our veterans," Hickam said.
Sally Stucker, a Patriot Guard Rider whose husband served in the military, said the parade is another way to show support for those defending the nation.
"We owe them our freedom," she said. "They're the ones that stand between us and destruction."
Although many members of the crowd had far less experience in the military than Wiyria, members of younger generations, including Wiyria's grandson, shared their support for the military.
A member of Cub Scout Troop 704, Wiyria's grandson proudly led the pack of scouts and held a lime-green poster that read, “We support our veterans.”
The parade was followed by a ceremony concluding a 24-hour vigil outside the Boone County Courthouse. This is the first time in recent years that the parade has been held in the afternoon and not on Veterans Day, according to Cadet Patrick Stark, who helped organize the parade and vigil.
The time and day were changed in the hope that more people could attend this year's parade, Stark said.
Veterans Day events continue on Monday and include a wreath-laying ceremony and a presentation by speaker Michael Hingson.
Supervising editor is Edward Hart.