Honoring military men & women on Veterans Day

Events all around the Austin area were held over the weekend to help honor those who serve or who have served our country.

Thousands of people lined downtown streets for the Veterans Day Parade to celebrate. This year's parade was dedicated to honoring the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. The event kicked off at the Ann Richards Congress Bridge.

Organizers say more than 100 floats and organizations participated including several marching bands from area high schools.

Those in the crowd say they took time to come out because they wanted to show their appreciation to those in the military and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

The parade wrapped up on the south steps of the State Capitol where several World War II veterans were presented with France's highest distinction, the Legion of Honour.

"This is the most commendable example of bravery and trust in humanity and those universal values that unite us," said Alexis Andres, French Consul General based in Houston.

The medal was established in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte during the French Revolution. Those selected were appointed to the rank of knight.

"Those men were 18 and 19 years old when they decided to participate to the fight in Europe in countries they had never visited before. They weren't responsible for this war and still they decided to come and fight for liberty and freedom," said Andres.

Each of the men Andres was referring to contributed in the liberation of France during World War II. That included Norman Riggsby who was just 18 when he was drafted into the service in 1941.

"I wanted to go in earlier but my mom wouldn't sign for me. She said you aren't going off to war," said Riggsby. 

He fought in the battle of Normandy and survived D-Day. 

"There's not very many of us left from D-Day. I was wounded twice," said Riggsby. 

More than 70 years later, Riggsby was honored with the highest recognition that the French government awards and he says it's something he never expected to get.  

"I'm amazed and I'm surprised as you might say," said Riggsby. 

Those who passed on or couldn't attend the ceremony due to health issues elected family to receive the medal.

During the ceremony many on lookers took a moment to give gratitude to not just the World War II heroes but also the men and women who have served in past and the present. 

The event wrapped up with many remembering those who have fallen with a traditional wreath laying ceremony accompanied by a gun salute.

Meantime over at the Frank Denius Veterans Memorial Plaza outside the DKR Memorial Stadium at the University of Texas a small group gathered to recognize all veterans as well but especially those in the Longhorn family.

When the football stadium was built it was dedicated in 1924 to the nearly 200,000 Texans who found in WWII. At least 5,200 of them lost their lives in the war and 97 were UT faculty, staff or former students.

Outside the stadium right now are the names of each Texan who died in WWI but members of the DRK Memorial Stadium Veterans Committee say they plan to expand the memorial and add the names of all Longhorn soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice in any war.