ORLANDO, Fla. (FOX 35 WOFL) - Buckets of rain poured down on as Orlando’s Veterans Day march kicked-off, but that couldn't dampen the marchers' spirits. Vietnam veteran Wally Collins was happy to see the crowds.
“I think it's really important what veterans do,” Collins mused, “what they've done in the past, and selflessly serve to protect our country, our constitution, and our way of life.”
It was Orlando's eighteenth-annual Veterans Day Parade. The theme this year was “healing the invisible wounds of war.” Wounds like post-traumatic stress disorder, which Collins said nobody talked about when he and his friends returned from battle.
“It's a disease that affects veterans,” Collins said, “it actually affects all first responders, to see horrible things happen over and over again.”
Marching in the parade, Sen. Bill Nelson - himself a veteran - said proper healthcare is something all who serve deserve. “We need to honor them and we need to make sure they have their medical needs covered,” Nelson said.
Spectators along the route agreed it's important for each generation to honor the men and women who serve in the military.
“For them to know that people have fought for them to be doing what they're doing now, live in a free world,” said Ronald Jones, who was watching the parade with his grandchildren.
Those are sentiments that make people like Wally Collins feel proud. “Be grateful,” Collins said, “if you see a veteran, shake his hand and thank him.”