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Chicagoans plan parade for veterans this fall

August 20, 2012 4:20:36 PM PDT
Two Chicago residents are organizing a parade in the city to honor American veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The new parade will step off on December 15, 2012. The two Chicagoans inspired to launch the event believe it is long overdue.

"These are the veterans that we cannot forget that," said Christopher De Phillips, founder and executive director of Chicago Welcomes Home the Heroes. "It is our opportunity to say thank you for that and to welcome them home."

De Phillips is a teacher. Laurie Ipsen is a restaurant manager. Both had grandparents in World War II.

Back in January, thousands showed up for a parade honoring Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans in St. Louis.

"I can't think of a better way to honor my grandfathers than to do this," said Ispen.

It is not an easy task to put on a parade. Permits must be obtained from the City of Chicago, the police and fire departments and Streets and Sanitation.

"While the city supports us, this is not a city-funded parade," said Ipsen. "We need support from the community donations and sponsors."

The organizers say Vietnam veterans were ignored when they came home. They were honored by a parade here in Chicago in 1986.

"Most of our adult life has been with this war as a backdrop. So this is our opportunity that we our learning from our past mistakes," said De Phillips.

"Korean and Vietnam veterans never had parades until later on so we would like to get this done," said Alderman James Balcer, 11th Ward, a former Marine and Vietnam veteran. "We have had a long tradition here in the city of honoring veterans. I think it's so important we honor Iraq and Afghan veterans here in the city with a parade for them."

To learn about upcoming fundraisers for the event, visit www.chicagowelcomeshometheheroes.org


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