‘Closure is important’: End of the Afghanistan War Parade coming to Portsmouth
PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (Tribune News Service) — Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 168 is organizing an End of the Afghanistan War Parade to honor soldiers who served in America’s longest military conflict.
The parade will be held Saturday, Oct. 9 and will step off at noon near the Parrott Avenue parking lot, according to Josh Denton, commander of VFW Post 168.
“The goal is to welcome back our veterans from all conflicts but specifically welcome back troops from the Afghanistan War, which is going to be over by Sept. 11,” Denton said Friday.
Denton, an Army veteran who served in Iraq from 2006 to 2007, helped organize the city’s End of the Iraq War Parade in 2012, which was one of the only such parades in the Northeast, he said.
“It was well attended. People were waving flags, it was emotional for me having participated in it,” he said. “Closure is very important to veterans. If you deploy to a combat zone there really is no closure to it, just one day it’s over,” he said. “I hope the End of the Afghanistan War Parade will help bring some closure to many of our veterans.”
Jonathan Day, the junior vice commander of the VFW, will use his experience helping to organize Portsmouth’s Halloween Parade to help plan the End of the Afghanistan War Parade, Denton said.
The war in Afghanistan began shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, when the United States led a military campaign against al-Qaida and the Afghan Taliban government that harbored and supported the terrorists, according to the Congressional Research Service.
Since the war began, the United States has suffered over 22,000 military casualties, including around 2,400 fatalities, in Afghanistan. Congress has appropriated approximately $144 billion for reconstruction and security forces there, according to the Congressional Research Service.
President Joe Biden announced in April he would be withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11.
Denton told the City Council this week that “the VFW is a nonpartisan organization and this will be a nonpartisan parade.”
The council voted unanimously to approve the VFW’s request to hold the parade.
Denton urged the public to attend to honor the troops, no matter how they feel about the Afghanistan war.
“Regardless of your personal opinions on the conflict, everyone who will be marching who served in that conflict, served their country,” Denton said.
He is inviting all veterans to march in the parade to “welcome home all of our veterans and to mark the end of the Afghanistan War. I’m hoping there will be a good turnout and the public will welcome our veterans home and thank them for their service.”
The planned parade route is set to kick off near the Parrott Avenue parking lot, proceed down Pleasant Street, make a left on Congress, a left on Fleet Street, a left on State Street and then a right back on to Pleasant, Denton said.
There will be a viewing stand on Market Square for any elected official who wants to attend.
Denton plans to reach out to other veteran organizations in Portsmouth and the Seacoast to ask them to participate, along with marching bands.
They also plan to hold a barbecue after the event for the public and parade participants in the City Hall parking lot, Denton said.
City officials are allowing the Portsmouth VFW Post, which no longer has its own building, to hold monthly meetings at the Senior Activity Center, which was formerly the Doble Army Reserve Center, Denton said.
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