By Mike Schuh

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Twenty-two million Americans and their families have a special connection to this day. They are the ones who served in the military and have earned the day off and the right to be in parades held in their honor.

As Baltimore honored its veterans Monday, some wished more had turned out to say thanks. Mike Schuh has more.

World War I ended 93 years ago and Veterans Day was born.

Streets were closed along Baltimore’s parade route. Dave DeLooze was at the midpoint.

“My father served, my brothers served, quite a few friends in Vietnam served so it’s their day,” he said.

He expected a bigger crowd–any crowd.

“I don’t have an answer for that,” he said.

He hid his disappointment that the sidewalks were empty. Yes, there was a band and the mayor and city leaders were there, but even as office workers stepped outside, they wondered where everyone was.

“I’m working today and my boss let me come down. I am terribly disappointed because everyone should be coming out,” said Suzanne Vickers.

Janice Chance lost her son Jesse five years ago.

“These streets should be lined with patriotic supporters. It’s because of our heroes that they have the freedoms to do what they what they want to today,” she said.

The tribute stretched nearly half a mile and, as it neared City Hall, there was a much more welcome sight: a crowd large enough to fill the plaza, perhaps setting things right for those wishing more could have publicly shown support for our veterans on this day.

“I want to thank all of the veterans who are here with us today, not only for your service to our country but for your efforts to ensure this holiday has meaning,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

Ceremonies and celebrations in honor of Veterans Day continued throughout the country Monday, including right here in Maryland. Christie Ileto has more on how Baltimore honored those who have served for our country.

Downtown, it was a message of thanks. Maryland Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake led a celebration to honor those who have served in our nation’s military and armed forces.

In Glen Burnie, Mission BBQ made it their mission to serve–literally.

“They do an awful lot for our vets,” said Vietnam Vet Larry Barr.

Barr and active-duty service members lined up at the Glen Burnie-based restaurant to celebrate Veterans Day with a free meal.

“Today is for us to just say thank you,” said Bill Kraus, co-founder of Mission BBQ.

And it’s no wonder people lined up out the doors. From the singing of our National Anthem to the endless plates of barbecue and tasty patriotic cakes, there was more than enough reason to celebrate.

Last year, Mission BBQ served 500 vets. In the first two hours, they’ve been open, they’ve served a couple of hundred. Their goal is 1,000.

But for Eugene Mills, whose son was killed in June, it’s more than the food but the message that comes along with it.

“We need to remember our veterans, not just one day a year but all the time,” he said.

Because our vets and their families know this more than anyone else:

“Freedom isn’t free,” said World War II veteran Claude Phelps.

It’s something many vets say you have to work to preserve.

Maryland is home to almost half a million Armed Forces veterans.


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