San Antonio – It takes a lot of passion to start a tradition from the ground up. Delia Guajardo had the energy and passion in 1999 when she was tabbed to organize the San Antonio Veterans Day Parade.
By 2000, a small group of veterans were cheered on by their families and friends as the small group marched for the first official parade.
“It took us 20 minutes to get from point A to point B,” Guajardo remembers. Her husband was Army veteran Ysrael Roy Guajardo, Sr. It was veteran Carlos Valencia Cavazos who first approached her.
Antonio Pena Bustamante and J.R. Garza, both veterans, were in that group that marched and they were also part of the organizing committee. They remember the first parade that almost didn’t happen.
“It really was freezing. It was sleeting. It was raining a little bit and the wind was pretty strong,” Bustamante said.
“There was no Military City, USA. We were there was it began and then, of course, the mayor officially gave us that title,” Garza said.
For Bustamante and other Vietnam War veterans, that small march meant a lot.
“It was a small group, but it was still a parade for us. And from then on, you know, they’d continued for quite a while,” Bustamante said.
Every year, the parade grew in entries and attendance. Now, thousands take part in the parade and the parade route is longer.
A new group now leads the organizing of the parade. Only a few members of that original organizing committee are still around to tell its history.
“We’ve done our share. Now it’s time for the younger generation, the next generation, to take over,” said Garza.
The 2023 United States Military Veterans Parade Association begins at 11 a.m. from Milam Park along Houston Street to the Alamo.