February 2012

A Welcome Home for Iraq War Veterans

American soldiers returning homeAmerican soldiers returning home

American soldiers returning home

In December, people gathered to welcome American soldiers who had just flown back from Iraq.

On December 28, 2011, friends Craig Schneider and Tom Appelbaum were talking about the troops returning to their hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. With the Iraq War over, many American soldiers had returned home. The two friends were surprised to learn that St. Louis was not planning to hold a parade to honor its Iraq War veterans. Schneider and Appelbaum decided that had to change. The friends began a grass-roots, or local, effort to organize a parade. They started a community page on Facebook to gather support for their effort. They called their page “Make January 28th Welcome Home the Heroes from Iraq Day.”

United States forces have been returning home since President Barack Obama announced in October 2011 that all troops in Iraq would be withdrawn before the end of the year. The last United States combat forces left Iraq on December 18, 2011, almost nine years after the war began. Returning service members have received warm welcomes across the nation. However, until St. Louis, no major city had planned a parade.

Schneider and Appelbaum’s idea gained attention quickly. Within just 24 hours, 1,600 people joined their Facebook page. Soon, donations started to pour in. By January 15, the group had raised more than $25,000 to help pay for the parade. They also had support from The Mission Continues, a nonprofit group that helps veterans adjust to life after the war.

Organizing a parade often takes several months, but “Welcome Home the Heroes” pulled it off in just one month. On January 28, tens of thousands of people turned out to show their support. About 600 veterans marched down Market Street in St. Louis. They were accompanied by 83 floats, marching bands, fire trucks, and countless American flags. Thanks to the efforts of Schneider, Appelbaum, and many other volunteers, the veterans could see just how much the community appreciated all of their hard work and sacrifice.

Image credit: ©Andrew Craft/The Fayetteville Observer/ZUMA Press via Newscom
Question 1
What did Schneider and Appelbaum do to honor veterans in St. Louis?

Question 2
From which war were veterans returning to St. Louis?

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