San Antonio Honors America's Military in November

By Carmen Burgess
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 26, 2006 - There's a saying that everything's big in Texas; this seems to hold true for their celebrations as well. While most of the world considers a week to be made up of seven days, Texans apparently have 10 in theirs. Or at least folks do in San Antonio do when it comes time to honor the military.

The Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce and the city of San Antonio are teaming up to host Celebrate America's Military Week Nov. 2-12. This is the 36th year the city has formally recognized servicemembers with parades, ceremonies and concerts that will draw a potential 300,000 spectators.

The Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce is a member of America Supports You, an ongoing nationwide Defense Department program that showcases and communicates America's support to the men and women of the armed forces. San Antonio was the first chamber to become an ASY team member in 2005.

"The chamber has had a close association with the military for 80 to 90 years," said Bill Mock, Chamber of Commerce vice president for economic development. He said that the chamber helped procure the land used many of the current military bases in the area.

"Everyone knows that (the community) is a huge supporter of the military," Mock said. "That has definitely helped us earn the title 'Military City, USA.'"

The CAM Week festivities include a Purple Heart monument dedication, Veterans Day parade, 'Freedom Fest' and discounted tickets for military members and their families to the San Antonio Zoo.

One of the highlights of the week will be a two-day air show at Lackland Air Force Base featuring the Air Force Thunderbirds, Army Golden Knights and Navy Leap Frogs in addition to many other aerial demonstrations and static displays.

"San Antonio has a rich history and culture that we're very proud of," said Bank of America Military Bank's Dawn Bannwolf, who is heading up the planning of this year's celebration. "The military is a huge part of that. We have a great number of retirees in addition to the active-duty contingent stationed in the area."

The celebration used to be held around Armed Forces Day in May, but in 2001 it was moved to coincide with Veterans Day to include the military past and present.

"We want to get everyone involved," said Bannwolf, who added that even local ROTC cadets are participating. "We are a very patriotic. It's a great way for us to honor those of the military past, present and future."

Both Mock and Bannwolf agree that this is a small way that the community can give back to those who have sacrificed so much.

In addition to supporting wounded troops who are recovering at local military hospitals, Bannwolf said, community outpouring towards military families whose troops are overseas has been phenomenal.

"I'm willing to bet that there aren't many communities out there who've come together in such a way to publicly say thank you for sacrifices being made by our military," Mock said.

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