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Sarasota's Veterans Day parade has special meaning for everyone

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SARASOTA, Fla. -- As the sounds of bagpipes and people marching fill the air, Herb Silkowitz remembers his father, Max; more specifically the day he returned from WWII with a bayonet, and told him his father single-handedly defeated the Germans.

"[He said] when Adolf Hitler heard that Max Silkowitz was coming, he surrendered," recalls the Sarasota resident. "As a four-year-old boy, of course I believed it for many years."

Florida is home to over 1.5 million veterans, nearly 50 thousand of which are right here in Sarasota.

On Veterans Day, hundreds line Main Street: waving flags, shaking hands and thanking the men and women who served to protect our freedom.

"Where else but this great country could you see an assembly of people coming out for a veteran's parade to honor those who served for many years?" says resident Lisa Silkowitz.

Those without military ties are reminded why they love this country. For most, it's simply our freedom.

"We have the freedom and liberty to speak what we want to speak," says Pat Defao.

"This country's changing, but we still have our freedom," adds Richard Stanley. "That I thank God for."

Mary Lou Moulton says her husband Don gets more thanks during the parade than he did returning home from Vietnam.

"Even though it's delayed many years, it's still worth it," he says.

However, Moulton thinks today's younger veterans are sometimes overlooked as well. According to armed forces non-profit RAND corporation, 20 percent of soldiers return from Iraq and Afghanistan with PTSD. It's also well-documented that the suicide rate among veterans is consistently higher than for non-serving Americans.

"We've got a lot of people coming back from Afghanistan and Iraq," says Moulton, a 15-year Navy veteran. "I don't think they're getting the help they need."

Army veteran T.J. Owings agrees help for veterans shouldn't just come once a year.

He says, "We've got to show all these folks super appreciation, more than just two days a year."