Local vets reflect on why Veterans Day is so important to them

BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Veterans Day is a day to honor our nations heroes and the Bay County community came together to do just that at the annual Bay County and Callaway parades.

For locals, there were two opportunities to honor vets, one at a parade and ceremony in Downtown Panama City, the other at a parade in Callaway. (WJHG/WECP)

"We're not going to have them around forever and I think it's important to one, tell them how much we appreciate what it is they've done, but at the same time, I think it's also important for us to do a lot of listening, listening to the stories that they have to tell because they really do have a lot to teach all of us and our generation," said Colonel Brian Laidlaw, the 325th Fighter & Installation Commander at Tyndall Air Force Base.

For locals, there were two opportunities to honor vets - one at a parade and ceremony in Downtown Panama City and the other at a parade in Callaway.

For many veterans, it means a lot to get the recognition they might not have received decades ago.

"It means a whole lot to me, because our Vietnam Veterans did not get a welcome after service there," said Vietnam veteran Jerry Green.

For other veterans, it's a way to pave a new path to respect for those who they feel are often forgotten - military women.

"We're here, we're veterans, we served," said veteran Cynthia Ellis.

"There's a lot of us here, there's a lot in this town, a lot of female, women veterans in this town too," said veteran Denise Brown.

"It feels good to represent them and just to get our faces out there and say 'Hey, we're out here and we see you,' so, just to get that recognition in the community that we served, we did our time, and there's other women across the country doing the same thing," said veteran Jillian Lesko.

And for community members like Alex Moody, it's a way to pay tribute to his father and brother who served in the military.

"It's really important to me, it's why we're here. We wouldn't have this if it wasn't for them," said Moody who is a piper for Panama City Pipes & Drums.

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