The Main Stream

Apr 1, 2012 7:01 PM

Thousands attend parade for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans

TUCSON - Thousands of people lined the streets downtown to thank veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Alan Toppel heard about a similar parade in St. Louis and decided Tucson could also make it happen.

"They just keep coming up to me and saying, ‘thank you,'" Toppel said. "I say, ‘no. Thank you. You're the ones that this is all about,'"

Toppel has never organized a parade and only had 2 months to make it happen. He is amazed by all the support from the community.

"Tomorrow I'm going to be the most obscure, anonymous person in the whole world," Toppel said. "Today, I'm on top of the world."

Joseph Wilson was injured by a roadside bomb. He was appreciative but modest about the attention.

"It's a real nice gesture," Wilson said. "It's almost a little uncomfortable. I've never been one for spotlights."

Veterans from several wars were happy to pay tribute to the new generation.

"I'm proud to be in the parade," Korean War Navy veteran Carle Blackwell said. "My heart goes out to these veterans who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Scott Sanders is a Navy Admiral and graduate of Sahuaro High School. He had not returned to Tucson for years but made sure to attend the event.

"It doesn't matter the time or where it is," Sanders said. "Events like this are good to have to thank the people."

Terry Stoffle held two framed pictures of her military sons as she cheered.

"It's been a roller coaster," Stoffle said, "I feel so excited people are acknowledging all our vets."

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