<PORT WENTWORTH, Ga. </B> The narrow, winding streets of Port Wentworth were filled with flag-waving citizens as the 3rd Infantry Division Band and Soldiers from the Special Troops Battalion marched through downtown and residential areas Saturday at the annual Stand Up for America Day parade.

"In the early '70s,' my church, Christian Mission Alliance, wanted to support veterans coming home from Vietnam," said Carolyn Allen Stevens, a resident of the community since 1958. "We started the parade back then to honor the military for their service, because we didn't like the treatment they were getting from many people in this country."

Since that time, the parade emphasis has shifted to honoring all servicemembers who serve, past and present, according to Port Wentworth Mayor Glenn Jones.

"We are thrilled and honored to have Soldiers from the 3rd ID Infantry Division here today to help us celebrate," he said.

There were 153 units participating in the parade, which included floats, vehicles, tractors and groups walking, according to Patrick Foran, the town's Leisure Services director, who helped organize the parade and festivities that followed.

"Participation has grown every year," Foran said. "Last year, we had 64 vendors participate in the festival following the parade. This year we have 94."

Vendors included those selling arts and crafts, others showcasing their businesses and others selling a wide variety of fast food entrees, such as hot dogs, hamburgers and barbecue sandwiches. After marching, Soldiers visited the food booths for lunch, compliments of the parade committee. Many stayed throughout the afternoon, milling around and checking out the booths and activities.

"It's been a fun day," said Spc. Vanessa Grimes, 1st Battalion, 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, who marched in the parade and sat afterward to eat a hot dog with her three-year-old daughter, Corey. "When I was asked if I'd like to participate, I said 'yes'."

"It's a privilege to represent the 3rd ID at this event," said Lt. Col. Richard Hansen, 1-3 BSTB commander. "It's nice to say thanks to a community that has supported our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines for so many years."

"This is our tribute to Soldiers," said Becky Health, a Port Wentworth resident who waited anxiously for the parade to begin. She has watched the parade with her three children for seven consecutive years while her detective husband works to ensure parade safety.

"When Soldiers pass, the kids will stand up and salute," she said. "They get excited when they see the band. We love it. It teaches children and adults about patriotism."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16