People lining Market Street Sunday paid their respects to former and current members of the nation’s armed forces during the Philadelphia Veterans Parade.
Veterans parading down Market Street connected with old friends and waved to attendees thanking them for their service.
Judge Patrick Dugan was honored as the parade’s Grand Marshal. He served 23 years in the Army, and throughout the ceremony, reflected on his years of service.
“I’m reminded of my friend Mark Phelan, who didn’t come home,” Dugan said. “Today, this is the parade for those who served and did come home, those who were peacetime veterans. Today’s the day to just kind of acknowledge and say, hey, appreciate what you did.”
Charmayne Purnell served for 27 years in the Army and rode on a float with the American Legion. She said events like the parade are important to give people the opportunity to reflect on the sacrifices veterans make.
“We’ve got to make our country strong for the right reasons so that all people, all people, will be safe, will be one, and that’s it,” Purnell said. “We’ve got to love each other. We all bleed the same blood. It’s red.”
According to info from the U.S. Census, between 2016 and 2020, more than 56,232 veterans lived in Philadelphia county. As of 2018, there were more than 18 million living in the United States, a decline of more than 7 million since 2000. Although, the number of female veterans is expected to keep increasing in the coming decades.
Aidan Peterson, a seasoned bugler, performed Taps during the parade.
“It’s always great to see the look on their face, and I think it’s really powerful whenever I play at funerals just because, you know, you’re playing for a loved one’s funeral,” Peterson said. “If I can make it a little bit better just by being there, I think it’s really good to see that.”
More than 7,000 people participated in the parade, despite Sunday’s sporadic rain showers.