Shouts of “Thank you for your service” follow Veterans Day Parade around Civic Center Park

Sunday, 12 November 2017, 09:36:03 AM. American flags and hats marking service line the Veterans Day Parade around Civic Center Park Saturday. Veterans reflect on the growing appreciation of those who served these days compared to the p…

People holding American flags lined Colfax Avenue on Saturday.

Motorcyclists, war re-enactors, Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps and the like circled Civic Center in honor of veterans, cheered on by applause from the sidewalks and cheerleaders who chanted “We are proud of you.”

Shouts of “Thank you for your service” greeted  the parade marchers and the marchers returned the sentiment to vets in the crowd.

Veterans watching the parade wore caps, shirts and jackets representing their branches of service. Others wore more defiant shirts that read, “I will never apologize for being a veteran.” There are more than 400,000 veterans in Colorado, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Greg Womeldorff, 78, stood on the side, watching the parade behind aviator sunglasses. He wore a blue bomber jacket, jeans and cowboy boots. A black cap signifying that he was a Navy veteran sat atop grey hair.

He’s been coming to the parade for the past five years, driving up from Franktown. Womeldorff served for 22 years from 1956 to 1978. He worked as an aircraft electrician and quasi-industrial engineer, spending time on Midway Island and Hawaii. But his favorite times were the four years aboard the USS Coral Sea, which has since been decommissioned and broken down for parts.

He noted that his favorite part of the parade is the support people show. Before he could finish his sentence, two marchers came over to shake his hand, telling him “welcome home.”

“I remember when I came home from Vietnam,” Womeldorff said. “Nobody liked us, the war was our fault and we were called this or that. You’d go into a bar to buy a beer and you’d have to get into the war all over again.”

He recalled still being harassed 10 years after the war when he got into an argument with a woman in Silverton. Womeldorff said it’s nice to see his son, a Marine who served in Iraq, be appreciated.

“The guys getting home nowadays get flowers thrown at them, not rocks and tomatoes,” he said. “A lot of people nowadays are starting to realize, as far as Vietnam, it’s not the veterans’ faults.”

As he reflected on this, a group of marchers passed by in the parade, calling for people to support veterans, not wars.

“It’s nice,” said 58-year-old Michael Goodlow, another veteran, of the parade. “When I was overseas, I didn’t see no parade.”

Goodlow sat on the railing separating the east and west lanes of Colfax Avenue. He wore a jacket with a camouflage pattern on its sleeves, brown corduroy pants and red Air Jordans. His white cap indicated his service in the Army’s infantry.

Originally from San Antonio, Texas, Goodlow served from 1978 to 1984, spending five years in Panama and two at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs. He said he’s been going to the parade every year since 2000.

He lamented that kids and teens these days look up to football and basketball stars as heroes instead of veterans who have served for the country.

“I think (support has) grown and it’s changed but I think a lot more needs to be done for these veterans,” he said.

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