City of Newberry welcomes home Afghanistan Veterans with a parade and expo event

Published: Sep. 25, 2021 at 5:11 PM EDT
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NEWBERRY, Fla. (WCJB) - The City of Newberry is making sure Afghanistan veterans get a warm welcome home, and a round of applause for their service.

The Newberry American Legion held an event honoring veterans with a parade and an expo at Clark Plantation.

Organizations set up info booths throughout the venue about different services available to veterans.

This comes almost one month after America withdrew all troops from Afghanistan, but the focus of today’s event was not the war itself.

“You may hate the war but you can not, you should not, and will not hate the warriors,” said Alachua County Sheriff, Clovis Watson.

Leaders across Alachua County emphasized the importance of putting aside political beliefs to honor those who served our nation.

“Today is not about why we went to Afghanistan, today is not about how long we were there, and today is not about how we left, today is about saying thank you to the men and women who answered the call of their country,” said Jordan Marlowe, Mayor of Newberry.

One Vietnam veteran said when he came home from the war, he and other soldiers were spat on. He said by holding this event he hopes the community understands how important it is to recognize the sacrifice of our Afghanistan veterans.

“When the governor called me, his office called me, and asked me ‘Would I do it?’ I’d like to cry because I was like wow.. It’s something when you give back to your fellow soldiers that you’re on the battlefield with,” said Sgt. Tyrone Watson, Chaplain of Newberry American Legion.

One Afghanistan veteran said it’s not often you see a community celebrating those who served.

“It’s hard to find places where veterans just acknowledge each other, we don’t really acknowledge each other very much,” said Keith Hughes, Afghanistan veteran.

Hughes said one of the biggest challenges he has faced since returning to America is fitting in with coworkers.

“You kind of think life and death, and it’s not life and death anymore. So I think that’s the biggest gap between civilian and veteran,” he said.

From elected officials to law enforcement officers, each person who took the microphone had the same message to all Americans.

“If we get back to being us. To being loving people, hugging people, color does not matter, if we can get back to that I think we can be a better world,” said Watson.

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