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San Antonio community, military join together for first-ever Armed Forces Day river parade

By Staff Sgt. Keith Anderson | Army North Public Affairs Office | July 19, 2012

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas — Thousands turned out May 19 to celebrate Armed Forces Day with an inaugural military river parade and concert in downtown San Antonio.

The "Here's to our Heroes" military river parade kicked off at the Arneson River Theater with a performance by "Tops in Blue," the U.S. Air Force's premier entertainment showcase, and the singing of the national anthem by Angie Johnson, a contestant from the television show "The Voice," and former member of Tops in Blue.

Lt. Gen. William Caldwell IV, commanding general, U.S. Army North, and senior commander, Fort Sam Houston and Camp Bullis, served as the Grand Marshal for the parade, put on by the Paseo del Rio Association and the City of San Antonio.

"This Military River Parade will salute and celebrate the men and women who serve, or have served, in all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces," said Marty Williams, president of the Paseo del Rio Board of directors.

Event organizers dyed the river blue for the parade, and the parade featured 25 river floats representing the U.S. Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, military support organizations and many others, including a float honoring Wounded Warriors.

Spc. Norma Torres, a supply specialist at U.S. Army North, was one of three Soldiers at the parade in vintage U.S. Army uniforms from different time periods. The San Antonio native said the parade was special for her because it honored veterans like her grandfather, Leopoldo Ramirez, a Marine Corps Lance Corporal who was a POW for three years during the Vietnam War.

"It means a lot to be honored for my service, but it was special to me because of the veterans that were there that I spoke to, and the recognition for their service," said Torres.

The celebration culminated with a free concert hosted by Operation Homefront in Hemisfair Park that featured country music star Tracy Lawrence.