Saturday morning Clovis will roll out the red carpet for Valley veterans who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. The welcome home parade is the brain child of a Fresno woman with no military background.
Marti Nicely saw a similar welcome home parade in St. Louis and felt it was time to duplicate it here. "I knew it was maybe improbable at the beginning, but as we went on I got to thinking yes it's gonna happen, and I'm very happy it's happening."
Marti Nicely sold her idea to a number of veterans, and they agreed to welcome home men and women who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan on Saturday. Steve Hoak is a Vietnam veteran. "I think a little recognition like this for the work that they did, the fighting that they did, the sacrifices they made, I think will help psychologically for them. I think it will make them feel a little better about themselves that they did something important."
More than 300 soldiers have signed up. The parade begins in front of the Clovis Veterans Memorial building on Hughes. It travels east on 4th street, then north on Elm and west on Third street back to Hughes.
The welcome home salute also extends to Vietnam veterans. To use Marti Nicely's words, 50 years too late. "The Vietnam veterans did not receive a very good welcome when they came back in the 60s, so we're just trying to make up for that a little bit."
All of the Veterans will walk the parade route together. "I guess to add a little camaraderie. Make sure they understand the older veterans appreciate what they did as well."
Once the parade is over, organizers hope to get the veterans to attend a job fair and resource fair in the Veteran's building. It goes from ten in the morning until two in the afternoon.
The pre-parade festivities begin at 9:00 a.m. and the parade follows immediately.
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