Led by a cadre of veterans from the local American Legion and VFW posts, an array of school bands, youth groups and community organizations paraded through downtown Nogales on Tuesday in honor of Veterans Day.
As they marched, community members of all ages lined Morley and Grand Avenues to cheer them on, waving U.S. flags and snapping photos.
“I really love it because the community of Nogales, they always support the veterans,” said Nelson Rodriguez, a U.S. Army veteran and senior vice-commander of VFW Post 2066 in Nogales. “You see other places and it’s just a few people coming out. Over here, we always get the full support of the community.”
Daniela Cervantes, a senior at Nogales High School and corps commander of the school’s Air Force JROTC program, said her group was especially inspired to march in the parade.
“It means a lot because they gave their lives for us to have freedom,” she said of military veterans. “We’ve been getting ready for the parade since a while ago – a month, month-and-a-half – so everything could come out right for them because we want to honor them.”
Following the parade, dozens of community members joined the veterans at the Wall of Honor in front of City Hall for a ceremony.
Several veterans, as well as Mayor Arturo Garino and U.S. Consul Virginia Staab, delivered remarks about honoring those who have served.
“We have grandparents, uncles, brothers, sisters, even cousins that are there, that have served one way or the other in the military,” Garino said. “We have to look at that. That is what our country is made of – brave men and women – and that’s why we have this freedom.”
Local veterans and their guests also gathered for a reception at the VFW post soon after the ceremony at City Hall.
(Reporting by Jonathan Clark and Genesis Lara.)