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Mutual respect: Veterans, public honor military at parade

Photo by Tori Boone

Photo by Tori Boone

DACULA -- Bobby Collins' brother, Floyd Collins, was killed in 1967 in Vietnam while serving in the Army. His wife Lois' cousin, Kenneth Britt, was also killed there about the same time.

These are the fallen who were remembered Monday as crowds of people lined the streets in Dacula for the 17th annual Memorial Day parade, an event held to remember those who have died in military service.

Some of the veterans in the crowds Monday, whose service is unofficially honored as well on Memorial Day, were obvious, wearing shirts that indicated the branch in which they had served or hats emblazoned with the name of the veterans organizations to which they now belong. Veterans like Scott LaRou, a Dacula resident who served in the Navy from 1992 to 1999 for whom the parade is an annual event, along with his wife Kelli, son Peter and daughter Sydney.

"It's nice to see people out here honoring our veterans and supporting our troops," LaRou said as he scanned the crowd gathered at the intersection of Dacula Road and Second Avenue. "They're proud of our country."

Many of the veterans participating in the parade acknowledged LaRou as they passed by. Joe Sasso, a World War II Navy veteran, saluted and LaRou returned the gesture, a moment of solidarity, mutual respect and understanding.

"We share an experience," LaRou said, tears beginning to trail down his face.

His father, Thomas LaRou, an Army veteran, was recently laid to rest at the Georgia National Cemetery in Canton. For LaRou and others whose loved ones were remembered Monday for their service, the parade was likely bittersweet. A time during which their losses were at the forefront in their minds and a time in which they could experience an outpouring of support from strangers.

"Some gave a lot, and they need to hear 'thank you,'" Lois Collins said, "and then the ones that gave all, the family needs to hear that."