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Mar 30, 2012 8:26 PM

Two day event honors soldiers

TUCSON - The names of every soldier killed in Iraq and Afghanistan in the last ten years was read aloud Friday at Pima Community College.

Volunteers read the names of more than 6,800 soldiers killed since Desert Storm. Throughout the day, hundreds of people stopped to listen at the downtown campus.

Alan Toppel said, "today is a solemn day. It's a remembrance day."

Among the volunteers was Sheron Jones whose son was killed in Iraq, "it was his first and last deployment. He only went once and he was killed four months after he was there."

Jones is a member of the Gold Star Mothers, an organization of moms who have lost a son or daughter in the service of our country. "That's what we're all about. Honor all of our veterans whether they've passed or they're still here. You know so many people forget," she said.

John and Carol Bowers read the name of their son's fellow soldier who was killed in combat, "I feel very fortunate that my son came back and many sons and daughters did not."

Pima Community College, which has more than 1,400 veterans enrolled in classes, joined Alan Toppel in planning for the event. Last month Toppel attended a parade in Saint Louis honoring the safe return of soldiers, he decided to hold a similar event in Tucson,"to say thank you for their service. This is something that we felt was necessary to do."

The Saturday, March 31st citywide parade will salute veterans and active-duty personnel in the U.S. armed services who fought in Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom-Afghanistan.

The parade begins at 10:30 a.m. in downtown Tucson. The parade route will start north on Stone Avenue and continue on Pennington Street, then move west on Franklin street turning south on Main Avenue, east on Alameda street, and south on Church to end back on Pennington and Stone.

For more information on the parade you can visit www.thankyousazvets.org/

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