Dunbar High School graduate Mario Hernandez, 20, who serves at Fort Hood, was in town for four days and decided to support veterans at the parade on Nov. 11.
“It was a passion of mine when I was back out here in Junior Cadet Corps and then Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps,” Hernandez said. “I joined my senior year and shipped out 45 days after high school. I spent six months at Fort Benning in the infantry and then airborne school, then straight to Fort Hood.”
More than 130 entries, including high school bands, junior reserve officer training corps programs, veterans, first responders, city workers and organizations, marched in the Tarrant County Veterans Day Parade at Panther Island Pavilion.
Hernandez visited his former instructors and old friends who have known him since he was 13 years old.
The parade, organized by the Tarrant County Veterans Council in partnership with city officers, featured more than 3,500 students in Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps and Junior Cadet Corps programs.
Parade volunteer Doc Savage said “watching all these kids in the ROTC unit” has been the most exciting part of the parade for him.
“Every year you get a few here and there, but each year each unit is getting bigger and bigger,” Savage said.
In February, the veterans council began fundraising and acquiring city permits, Tarrant County Veterans Council President Daniel Zmroczek said. This year, the parade changed routes from its previous downtown Fort Worth route to a two-mile stretch through Forest Park Boulevard and 5th Street.
“It’s great because they are walking history books,” Zmroczek said. “You read it in a book, it’s one thing, but you hear it out of the mouth of the guy who was there, that’s a whole other image. It’s good to honor these guys.”
Cristian ArguetaSoto is the community engagement journalist at the Fort Worth Report. Contact him by email or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.