Thousands marched as thousands watched
All you had to do was look at their faces. That's what I kept thinking as the parade passed by. These were no longer anonymous numbers that made up "our side" in the war stories reported from the other side of the world. These were the men and women who have been there, worn the uniform in battle, put their very lives on the line and served our nation. Now they were here, and marching right by the rest of us.
They were from the 4th Infantry Division, and the 43rd Sustainment Brigade and others. These are the very units we've been talking about on 11 News for the past few years, as they deployed, and very recently as they came back home. These were the heroes who've done what most of us have never had to do. Mixed in with the returning troops were other parade entries, colorful, noisy, patriotic, often all three. We saw military leaders of the future..JROTC students from Mitchell High School, Air Force Academy cadets.
We also saw reminders of the past. There were old military vehicles, restored and displayed, transport trucks from the Vietnam era, even some jeeps and other vehicles from the World War Two period.
There were bands from Doherty, Wasson, Sabin, Pine Creek and others. The Coronado Jazz Band even played on the back of a truck. (jazz bands can't march)
The highlight though, was all those returning soldiers.
We brought the whole thing to you live on MyKKTV and on kktv.com. I commend our station managers for committing to this. It takes a lot of resources and planning and personnel to do long-term coverage of an event in the field. At least three of the highest ranking managers at KKTV were involved in a very hands-on way in bringing this live coverage to everyone. There must have been at least a dozen staffers downtown making it all happen. My co-anchor Shannon Brinias and I had the easiest part, we just had to talk! Below is a shot of me doing a "mic check" just before the parade stepped off, and our coverage kicked off. We did a brief intro, then turned the narration over to parade announcer Bob Stovall.
About half way through, Shannon stepped up to the mic to interview Fort Carson Commander, Major General David Perkins. He told all of us that the support here at home is really what helps keep their morale up, in spite of what has become a situation of repeat deployments. Below is a picture of the General and the Anchor.
It took a lot of effort at quite an expense for the station to do this, and we were happy to do it. The military men and women deserved the tribute, and everyone else deserved to see it, beyond the estimated 40,000 or so who were there on Saturday. Our coverage wasn't perfect. We had a technical problem that meant every time we switched from one camera to another, there was a large glitch in the picture. To avoid that distraction we added a graphic "wipe" on each camera switch. We know that was distracting too, but it was the lesser of the two evils. On live event coverage such as this, there was nothing else we could do.
I was later told that a couple of people called the station during the parade and complained about the graphic...even used graphic language to complain about the graphic to the poor staffer who happened to answer the phone. I suppose at any time during the parade that viewer could have switched to what the other stations were offering which was....oh yeah....nothing.
You just can't please everyone, but I'm pleased that we tried. Again, I'm thrilled that my station, KKTV 11 News is the one that made the commitment and showed enough support to carry the event, in its entirety, live on our web channel and on MyKKTV. (MyKKTV is channel 11.2 if you're digital, and it's channel 41 on comcast in the Springs).
It was remarkable that so many in the crowd had no direct connection to the military (we all have an indirect one). The story on 11 News at ten that night included an interview with a woman who said she had never been in the military and no one in her family was, she just wanted to say thanks. That about sums it up.
Thanks very much to everyone who was part of it, and who was there for it and who helped us broadcast it. As Gen. Perkins told Shannon, it really does help military members to know that they are appreciated. And did the people in that crowd appreciate them?
All you had to do was look at their faces.
We'll talk again soon.
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