As Travis Coyle and fellow members of the Living Waters Farm Initiative marched along Main Street in Harrisonburg on Sunday afternoon for the annual Veterans Parade, hundreds of people lined the road cheering.
Coyle said he was honored.
“It says a lot about the small-town atmosphere … the local people that continue to support military families,” he said. “It makes me proud. We definitely have compassion for our neighbors.”
Living Waters, which served as the parade’s grand marshal, supports veterans with pastoral counseling, peer support, and therapeutic farming in northwestern Rockingham County.
Coyle served one tour in Afghanistan as a military liaison, running a security team for the Army Corps of Engineers. He suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and secondary traumatic brain injury.
Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance organized the parade.
Cynthia Ludholtz, 72, of Harrisonburg, participated in the parade to support her husband, William Ludholtz, and other members of the Vietnam Veterans Chapter 1061 in Harrisonburg.
She said the veterans look forward to the parade each year.
“We think it’s marvelous,” she said. “I appreciate this tremendously that [they] realize what a veteran has done. They gave up part of their lives to protect our rights.”
Jerry O’Hara, president of Chapter 1061, said he’s participated in the parade for many years.
He said he’s grateful that people continue to honor veterans.
However, he said, the American flag is what is most important.
“When people stop honoring that flag is the day this country will probably fall,” he said. “That flag means everything to a veteran.”