Panama City Honors Generations of Veterans

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PANAMA CITY - People across the panhandle took time Monday to remember and honor those who have served our country. One of the largest events in our area, the Bay County Veterans Association Parade and Memorial Ceremony, took place Monday morning in downtown Panama City.

Cheers and applause came from all sides of the Veterans Day parade in Panama City, spectators expressing thanks to those who have given up so much.

"It deepens my heart. It makes me feel like what I've done and what the rest of the military has done that the people appreciate us," said Christian Meier, a Vietnam War Veteran.

Dozens of veterans, some who served as far back as World War II veterans, participated in Monday's parade.

"How nice it was to see so many people, so it gives me hope that our country still is going to be able to make it," said Julian E. Hudges, a World War II Veteran.

At 91, Hudges is one of the area's few surviving World War II veterans. He served in the U.S. Navy and was on board the USS Yorktown aircraft carrier during the Battle of Midway.

The veterans say the patriotic songs and the show of appreciation makes them feel honored.

"When I went in the Navy, it wasn't so much that support. It was right after Vietnam and veterans weren't held to quite as high esteem, so I'm really happy about this," said Lee Robertson, another Vietnam War Veteran.

Even those currently serving praised the veterans, saying they've kept the American dream alive for future generations.

"Those who have given much of themselves to ensure the light of freedom still shines in america," said Commanding Officer Christopher C. Serow of Naval Support Activity-Panama City.

Many giving all they had. They too were honored Monday at the Bay County Government Center with a wreath laying ceremony.

There was a new parade route this year. Instead of ending at the Panama City Marina, which is being renovated, the finale took place at the Bay County Government Center on West 11th Street.