There was a sea of red T-shirts at the Proud to be American Parade Sunday afternoon in downtown Maryville. Parade organizers gave out an estimated 300 to 500 of their T-shirts to veterans in recognition of their service to their country.
“You could tell who the veterans were,” event director Bethany Brown said. “It was nice to see all those red T-shirts and know what these individuals have done so that we might be free.”
The date of the event was significant because it was held a day before Flag Day.
“When we first started this event three years ago, we picked the time around Flag Day because the flag is a symbol of our patriotism,” said Brown. “This is a way to honor our country’s veterans and our current military personnel and their families. A lot of these veterans have never been told ‘Thank you’ for their service, and they are so surprised when people show appreciation for what they’ve done.”
Brown said what she thought was most rewarding was seeing the Vietnam War veterans. “That is the best part -- seeing those who served in the Vietnam War and were treated so badly when they came home to be told ‘Thank you,’ and to see the smiles on their faces,” she said.
The event director said parade organizers were pleased with how the event came off. “We had a lot of people there to thank our veterans. Everything went smoothly, and everybody had a good time,” she said.
The parade went down East Church Avenue, turned left on Cusick Street and ended at the Blount County Courthouse. There were 70 entries in the parade, including the Shriners, the Disabled American Veterans, Gunner from WIVK and representatives from various military organizations such as the American Legion, the Women’s Marine Association, the Knoxville Military Vehicle Club, various businesses and large number of individuals who drove their antique cars in the parade. The mayors from Blount County, Maryville and Alcoa participated, as did District 8 State Sen. Doug Overbey and District 20 State Rep. Bob Ramsey.
Brown said that organizers are tentatively scheduling the 2012 Proud to be American parade for June 11. For more information, call 865-556-9280.