Purchase photos

Kansas communities, leaders honor veterans

11/11/2013

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -- For Don Boose Sr, the sight of a Veterans Day parade Monday through downtown Topeka was a long time coming but much appreciated as he joined thousands of people lining the curbs.

It was the first Veterans Day parade on record for the state's capital city, which wound down Kansas Avenue before looping back past the east wing of the Statehouse. Scores of military vehicles carried flag-waiving veterans on the brisk morning.

"I think this is the best thing that ever happened to Topeka," said Boose, 63, a Navy veteran who served during the Vietnam War.

The Topeka parade was organized by Melissa Jarboe, wife of Army Sgt. Jamie Jarboe who died last year from wounds suffered when he was shot by a sniper in Afghanistan. Other communities holding parades included Emporia, home of the first Veterans Day, Eskridge, Leavenworth and Manhattan.

Boose, who rescued downed pilots in the ocean from 1969 to 1973, said support for veterans now was much better than when he left the service. He recalled getting "the full treatment" from critics of the war who threw eggs at those returning from combat.

"I felt safer over there. I would have gone back," Boose said. "We were just doing what we were told. If I had to do it all over I'd do it in heartbeat."

Gov. Sam Brownback stopped a "deuce and a half" cargo truck carrying Vietnam War veterans to present them with a proclamation marking Veterans Day. The governor later hopped on his motorcycle to join the parade route.

Michael Chavez, 63, was a Marine corporal stationed at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba from 1969 to 1971. He wore his day uniform of olive drab pants, brown shirt and black boots while watching the parade.

"There were guys who did a lot more than me and I'm just here to respect them. God bless them all," Chavez said.

He said it was a little bit of an embarrassment that Topeka never had a parade to honor veterans, but was pleased to see so many participants and spectators.

"It just tells you something," Chavez said.

Army National Guard soldiers and Air National Guard airmen were going to local nursing homes and assisted living centers to hand out certificates of appreciation to veterans for their service.

A ceremony was held at the Pittsburg State University Veterans Memorial Amphitheater to honor military service, including a special recognition for Father Emil Kapaun, a native of Kansas who was recently awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for his actions during the Korean War.