SALT LAKE CITY — To wear the uniform of the United States military is an honor not to be taken lightly. On Sunday, residents across Utah showed their support for the uniform and those men and women who chose to serve their country.
In Taylorsville, residents lined the streets, braving frigid conditions and occasional snowfall to salute local military veterans. Many, like teenager Natalie Andersen, waved American flags and cheered as the parade participants walked by.
When asked why she wanted to honor the military, she said, “The veterans are fighting for our country and I love freedom.”
Dressed in a European military uniform, U.K. native and military historian Chip Guarente drove a replica of a World War II era Jeep in the parade processional that he had transported from Europe.
“I’ve driven it on the Normandy beaches and had a Medal of Honor recipient in the passenger seat,” he said.
He said similar to the U.S., in the United Kingdom, veterans are also highly regarded for their service for preserving their country's freedom.
Among those veterans who participated in the parade was co-grand marshal Senior Master Sergeant Charles Davis, who served in both Korea and Vietnam.
Clad in his Air Force dress uniform, replete with numerous commendations, Davis said he appreciated the gratitude shown by all the people who came to the event.
“(People) should be proud of our veterans because they have done their job for the country,” he said. “All the different branches of the military have served in their own way and did the best they could while they were in.”
Vietnam Navy veteran Rudy Van Harn was among the many former military in attendance at the parade. He said having “a day of recognition to honor all the vets” is an important tradition in Utah and across the country.
“I like people to know that I served,” he said. “The attitudes have changed a lot since Vietnam.”
He said more needs to be done to help soldiers transition back into civilian life, especially those who had served in war zones that may have experienced some severe trauma.
“A lot of the problems arise when you are being shot at one day, then you come back home and try to be normal again,” he explained. “It’s not that easy.”
He advocated for additional support for veterans returning from the current military conflicts.
On Utah’s Capitol Hill, a ceremony to honor military veterans was held in the rotunda of the Capitol. Utah Department of Veterans Affairs executive director Terry Schow said all veterans deserve to be recognized for their service.
“Today is Veterans Day. Today is your day,” he said to the packed audience that included many military veterans. ”Some of you have never received a “thank you,” You’ll get one today. Thank you.”