DALLAS - Thousands of people in Downtown Dallas are celebrating Veterans Day early with a parade.
The annual parade started around 11 a.m. Friday in the western part of downtown in the Reunion District and will end at Dallas City Hall. It is expected to last about three hours. About 150 groups are participating.
The theme of the parade this year honors the veterans of the Gulf War, those who fought in Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm.
"The Gulf War presented a challenge for the American servicemen and women unlike any before. 34 nations assembled, under the leadership of the United States, to stem the invasion Kuwait by Iraq and to defend Saudi Arabia," said retired U.S. Air Force Col. Joe Cordina, the 2017 parade chairman. "The success of these back-to-back campaigns set into motion the steps toward freedom from tyrannical rule and initiated progress toward self-governance. However, the sacrifice borne by our service personnel was not small. While nearly 150 Americans paid the ultimate price, the impact to American families reached all the way to our doorstep and into the hearts of each of us. To our American servicemen and women, and to their families, we owe a debt of gratitude we are a free people because of them and their sacrifice.”
Organizers said having the parade on a weekday makes it easier for the young people in junior ROTC, the high school bands and other groups to participate.
Several veteran dignitaries were also in attendance including retired Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez. He led a U.S. battalion in the Gulf War and for a while was the top military commander in Iraq during the war there.
For more information, visit vetsdayindallas.org.