The Philadelphia Veterans Day Parade kicked off at 16th and Market streets on Sunday, Nov. 6 to show appreciation for the veterans who fought for our country over the years.

Citizens of Philadelphia lined the sidewalks of Market Street to cheer on, and more importantly, thank the veterans who traveled down in the parade.

Jerry Polonsky, a Korean War veteran. Photo by Kaci Lewandowski / Multimedia Storytelling
Jerry Polonsky, a Korean War veteran. Photo by Kaci Lewandowski / Multimedia Storytelling

Jerry Polonsky, a veteran who was in the Korean War, attracted the attention of many when he would stop on different parts of Market Street and enjoy the parade from different views.

Polonsky, at the age of 84 stated that he always attends events like this where veterans are honored, and is very involved when it comes to being a veteran. He does not like to miss an event that he can go to because he is so proud of the time he spent in the Korean War.

“I’m a Temple Alumni,” said Polonsky, therefore, attending veteran events in Philadelphia is something he said he holds close to his heart considering he attended college here.

After giving his admiration for events like this, he stated that he was meeting a few buddies for a drink and had to go catch a bus with his friends.

Throughout the parade, you could see veterans in the stands with their families, particularly their grandchildren, waving flags and shouting out “Thank you” to the vets traveling down Market Street. It was an emotional event for the loved-ones of veterans, and especially for the veterans themselves who are still around to be appreciated and be surrounded by respectful patrons.

Jim Kirlin, a Vietnam War veteran. Photo by Kaci Lewandowski / Multimedia Storytelling
Jim Kirlin, a Vietnam War veteran showing off his flag. Photo by Kaci Lewandowski / Multimedia Storytelling

The next veteran goes by the name of Jim Kirlin, who went to war at the age of 18 and served in probably the very well-known Vietnam War.

Kirlin stated that war is “one of the most brutal things any human being can experience,” and the emotion in his voice was heard while he said this as well as the tears streaming down his cheeks.

There would be days on end where these men would not sleep, and sometimes they did not willingly go to war. Most of the time, especially during the Vietnam War, young boys 18 and above were drafted to war. Therefore, they did not get a choice and had to serve for their country.

As Kirlin and Polonsky both know first-hand, war is something that takes a toll on any human being. It is demanding, time-consuming, and dangerous when it is all said and done. Nothing could ever compare to the war must make someone feel.

Events like the parade down Market Street are put together to show each and every veteran that they are appreciated. Today, our country is all that it is because of all that these men/women went through. Those who served in war should be thanked as often as possible, because those of us who do not have to go truly do not realize how lucky we are.

Kirlin stated that nothing could ever compare to war, but he said that he would do everything all over again when it comes to war. Through tear-filled eyes he said, “There’s nothing I would change, I would do it all over again. We all would.”

They all would because of the appreciation that is shown through events like these. Everyone in attendance could never know first-hand what these men and women went through, but the only way that we could say thank you is through events like these.

Getting an event like this together is probably not an easy thing to do, but the way the veterans are honored is priceless.

Some of the food available at the 2nd Annual Veterans Day parade. Photo by Kaci Lewandowski / Multimedia Storytelling
Some of the food available at the 2nd Annual Veterans Day parade. Photo by Kaci Lewandowski / Multimedia Storytelling

As of 2014, Pennsylvania had 821,624 veterans populating the entire state, according to the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs. It is unknown how many of them attended this particular event.

Although the veterans were the main attraction, what made this a family event was the entertainment and food trucks that were lined on Market street. The rock-climbing wall was something children could enjoy as well as the food.

The rock-climbing wall in the middle of 4th street ready for those in attendance to enjoy. Photo by Kaci Lewandowski / Multimedia Storytelling
The rock-climbing wall in the middle of 4th street ready for those in attendance to enjoy. Photo by Kaci Lewandowski / Multimedia Storytelling

 

Photos and video by Kaci Lewandowski / Multimedia Storytelling

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