AUSTIN (KXAN) — Even though COVID-19 precautions put a stop to the largest Veterans Day event in the city, people were still out Thursday honoring the roughly 50,000 people in our area who served or serve our country.
Veterans Pocket Park commemoration: Typically, Austin holds one of the largest Veterans Day parades in the country. However, COVID-19 restrictions have led to the cancellation of the 2021 edition. Organizers say they hope to renew the tradition in 2022.
A small consolation to the parade that typically draws upward of 30,000 people was the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Veterans Pocket Park, near the Charles Johnson House owned by American Legion Travis Post No. 76.
“I think it was a good substitute for the parade and hopefully next year we can have the parade,” said Manuel Jimenez, chair of the Commission on Veterans Affairs for the City of Austin.
Jimenez served more than two decades in the Air Force. As such, he was stationed all over the country and the world.
That service and deep-rooted understanding of what veterans need is why Jimenez spoke Thursday about moving the City of Austin towards having an office of veterans affairs to seek out veterans in the community and address their personalized needs.
“We have a lot of veterans that are criminally justice involved, we’ve had some good steps with Travis County having the veterans court, the sobering center has also been a good project,” he said. “To me that’s the main goal, is getting as many veterans that are in need or in crisis and then getting them to the VA to get them services.”
The University of Texas at Austin had a wreath-laying ceremony at the Denius Veterans Memorial Plaza near DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium.
The ceremony is held before UT football’s Veterans Recognition game. The Longhorns take on Kansas at 6:30 p.m. Saturday in the game.