SAN MARCOS – For Rachel Martinez and her family, celebrating Veterans Day always includes attending this town’s annual parade and going to the town cemetery to visit her father’s grave.

It’s a tradition meant to honor his father, Donaciano Cervantez, a WWII army veteran who died in 1997. But Martinez said it was also an opportunity to show respect to other veterans in the community. and teach the younger generation of his family what the veterans sacrificed. for the country.

Martinez, 53, is the youngest of 11 siblings, half of whom were able to attend the San Marcos Veterans Day parade on Saturday morning with several other relatives. The group gathered along the downtown parade route under a canopy, where they hung a banner that read “Honor Dad” under a photo of Cervantez.

“It is very important, especially in our time, to continue to respect those who have served,” said Martinez. “They’re the ones who served in the past, that’s what has given us our freedom today.”

The family were among hundreds of people who lined the streets of downtown San Marcos to cheer on around 50 groups who walked or marched the parade route. Local elected officials were in attendance at the parade along with organizations such as the San Marcos Lions Club, San Marcos High School Air Force JROTC and the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association.

The San Marcos Parks and Recreation Department has been running the parade since 2007, according to Lisa Morris, recreation program manager and event organizer. She said last year’s parade was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but was replaced by a series of month-long activities designed to honor veterans.

This year, the ministry has decided to continue some of these activities and encourages residents to do something for veterans every week this month, such as donating to the food bank for the veterans pantry and writing a letter to a resident of a Texas State Veterans Home.

But on Saturday, residents came to town for the return of the parade.

The Kiwanis Club of San Marcos had a tank pulled by the club tractor. As he circled the town square of San Marcos, he was followed by a bicycle brigade of a dozen children, who had decorated their bikes with stars and red, white, and blue banners. The club organizes the bicycle brigade every year.

The parade is the favorite parade of Board Member Alyssa Garza. She said this year’s festivities were a great way to bring the community together “as we come out of COVID-19”.

Garza participated in the parade with the Hays County Democratic Party. The group carried placards advocating for housing for veterans and for jobs and skills training for veterans.

“I think it’s a feeling the whole community shares,” she said, “so seeing everyone coming here, regardless of party affiliation, to support our veterans, confirms that we are on the right track.

Stephanie Brown, commander of VFW Post 3413, said she hoped the community had fun connecting, especially since she hadn’t had the chance to celebrate with a traditional parade last year. Brown, 40, was an Army medic for a decade, serving first in the Air Force and then in the Army.

“It is an honor to be recognized in the community as well as an educational opportunity for community members to see how many veterans live here,” she said. “We walk among them all the time and they don’t know. So that’s cool; it is a two-way street.

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