Central Texans kept the patriotic spirit of the Fourth of July holiday going Saturday.
The inaugural Welcome Home, Iraq Veterans Parade kicked off early Saturday morning, snaking through downtown Austin as onlookers cheered.
David Valdez lined up to honor the service men and women who he says fight for democracy worldwide. As a photographer, he got to know some America’s former leaders very well.
He took photos for President George H.W. Bush for nine years.
"I'm a guy from Alice, Texas and having the opportunity to work for a president just amazes me all the time," Valdez said.
The Welcome Home, Iraq Veterans Committee came up with the idea for the parade.
"We're just a few people that got together over beers one night," organizer Connor Kenny said. "We now know that we are losing more soldiers from taking their own lives, than we actually have lost to enemy fire, so I think that clearly shows that our veterans need a show of support from our community."
Iraq War Veteran Staff Sgt. Edward Jerkic appreciated the effort.
"It means a lot. It means there are people that care about us and support us," Staff Sgt. Jerkic said.
The Welcome Home, Iraq Veterans Committee also organized a job fair for the newly returned veterans.