Thousands of people converged on downtown Pittsburgh Monday for the annual Veterans Day parade. Many of them were watching, and even more were marching.
Dozens of high school bands provided entertainment while veterans from every generation marched down the length of Smithfield Street.
Onlookers greeted the vets with cheers and applause, shouting “Thank you!”
Paul Kennedy, western vice commander for the Pennsylvania American Legion, lives in the North Hills and said it was great to see so many people come out for the parade.
“I remember years ago when you didn’t get this many, now look,” Kennedy said. “Everybody’s rallied together now.”
Mayor-elect Bill Peduto marched with a group of veterans near the beginning of the parade and said he was proud to stand with the region’s veterans.
“Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania has one of the largest veterans' populations in this entire country, and it’s not that we’re the biggest city in this entire country,” Peduto said. “It’s just a remembrance of all those folks who gave. We remember those that lost their lives on Memorial Day, and we remember all of those that served on Veterans Day.”
Teacher Adria Scott brought her sixth graders from West View Elementary School to the parade, a tradition that is now more than two decades old.
Scott said her school has developed a great relationship with the Veterans of Foreign Wars group in West View.
“West View VFW funds the buses for us, so it’s not a hardship on the district to get us down here,” Scott said. “It’s important for them to say thanks to these veterans, and you can see it in these guys’ eyes. They’re appreciative that the kids are down here.”
Scott said she works the event into her curriculum, discussing with her students the history of American wars and asking them to write letters to veterans.
Lou Duffy, also of the North Hills, served in the Navy from 1969-1973 and said he participates in the Veterans Day parade every year.
“It warms my heart," he said. "I really enjoy seeing the people, and the people that said thank you on the way through the parade route. It’s just an enjoyable day. I look forward to it.”