World Warr II veteran James Warren, 93, sat comfortably in a new rocking chair adorned with an Airforce emblem outside his home at the Texas State Veterans Home, watching the communty's second annual Veterans Day parade.
The rocker was one of 16 donated and delivered to the veterans home Wednesday morning by a group of community members.
In addition to the rocking chair benefactors, numerous other individuals and groups visited the veterans home to participate in the parade and show their appreciation to the veterans who live there.
Reflect on service
"I received a letter from Franklin Roosevelt when I was 18 that said, ‘Congrats, you're 18, and we need you in the military," Warren said. "I enlisted in 1942 in Houston, Texas, and I was with 11,000 Houston area volunteers. I was sent to the Philippines and then to Okinawa, Japan," Warren said.
Mr. Warren is one of 100 Veteran residents at the Watkins-Logan Texas State Veteran Home in Tyler.
About 20 organizations from throughout the area participated in the parade, according to Donna Huffman, on site representative for the Watkins-Logan Veteran Home.
"The turn out this year was phenomenal," Mrs. Huffman said. "I didn't know what to expect, but I knew that the weather was not going to stop us from honoring these veterans."
Navy veteran George Martin, 90, spent his morning watching the Veterans Day parade and shared with his fellow comrades about his time in the service as an operator on a Higgins boat landing craft. Martin served in the Navy for four years and said he didn't want to be anywhere else at the time.
"Speaking for my generation, being in World War II when this country was attacked, there was no place else that we wanted to be except out there doing our part," Martin said.
Martin said he never thought of his time in the service as a great sacrifice, and he gets embarrassed at the attention he receives during Veterans Day.
"Sometimes I'm almost embarrassed at the attention we get, because a lot of us didn't come back," he said. "As the war was ending, I spent the last 10 months of my time in various hospitals overseas after an injury.
"I have a wire that they sent my parents, and I always get a kick out of thinking about it, because they told them when I was injured that my prognosis was very poor, but here I am," Martin added.
He was surprised that so many people came out Wednesday to show their appreciation.
"Quite frankly, it's unbelievable that so many people get involved in this parade, and it's greatly appreciated," Martin said.
After the parade, Brookshire Grocery Company provided food for a large cookout for the residents and their families.
Later, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and state Rep. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, stopped by Watkins-Logan for a mid-afternoon tour of the state facility and to thank a group of veterans. Patrick presented a half-dozen veterans a Texas flag that flew over the Capitol Building in Austin. Patrick thanked the veterans for their service and praised the generation of men and women who went to war and returned home to build a better nation.
Patrick was in town for a fundraiser benefitting Hughes campaign for Texas Senate. But Patrick said he was pleased to have the opportunity to tour the veteran facility that he called the "model for the future" in caring for veterans.
"This was my opportunity to say thanks," Patrick said. "My father was in the Marine Corps so I recognize the shoulders my generation and following generations stand on."
- Adam Russell contributed to this report.