The day before Veteran’s Day, a family crowded together on the corner of Central Blvd. And Rosalind Ave. They laughed and pointed at a large firetruck slowly rolling by, following rows of police force and uniformed soldiers marching.
It was the Orlando Veteran’s Day parade, and the family was there to celebrate the service of their relative, Felix Renteria, sitting in the chair in front of them. The veteran proudly sported his “U.S. Army” hat with an American flag stuck to the side of it.
Renteria served in the army for 23 years and traveled to places such as Taiwan, Taipei, the Philippines, Guam, Panama, Honduras and all over the United States. He put his life on the line for the country he loves.
Watching the parade organized to celebrate the effort of soldiers like Renteria meant a “whole lot” to him, especially on the 100-year anniversary of Armistice Day.
“When you take a kind of job where, 24 hours a day for 23 years, you’re putting your life on the line, it’s good to see that someone appreciates it,” Renteria said.
The City of Orlando hosted its 19th annual Veteran’s Day parade with a specific focus on recipients of the Purple Heart, an award given to those who were injured or killed while serving with the U.S. military.
The parade, which lasted for two hours, featured dozens of organizations such as high school ROTC bands, military organizations, veteran’s groups, non-profit groups, police forces, fire safety forces and children’s groups.
“It’s appreciating the people who went to war, who enlisted, who did so much for us,” said Eliza Ramirez, a student at Colonial High School.
Ramirez is a cadet lieutenant colonel of the JROTC at her high school. Her JROTC unit marched in the parade, and she said that it’s the least they could do for the veterans of Orlando. Ramirez herself looks forward to enlisting in the Air Force and pursuing a career in security forces. One day, she said she will join the scores of veterans that parades like this celebrate.
“[The parade] means a lot,” Ramirez said. “It’s just a small [act of] appreciation that we do for them.”