Veterans go and fight the nation's wars. They spend long periods of time away from their families, training or on dangerous deployments.
Sometimes, they even pay the ultimate sacrifice for protecting our freedoms by giving up their lives.
This weekend, El Pasoans will have several opportunities to once again say "thank you."
Saturday, there will be two Veterans Day parades -- one in Downtown El Paso and the other in San Elizario.
The nonprofit organization that runs Old Glory Memorial in the Northeast usually has a parade, too, but it will have a ceremony on Sunday instead. Veterans Day actually falls on Sunday, which is the reason for the change.
Hugo Clemente is a Vietnam-era veteran who served in the Army Special Forces. He will participate in the Downtown parade along with other members of the Benavidez-Patterson "All-Airborne" Chapter of the 82nd Airborne Division Association.
"It's important not to forget the sacrifice that all veterans make, even in peacetime," said Clemente, who is the chairman of the airborne veterans group. "It's still a difficult job and it's difficult for families, too. Whenever you see a veteran in the street, thank him for his service. He will really appreciate it."
The Downtown parade is put on by the United American Veterans Organization of El Paso, an umbrella group of veterans organizations. This parade will start at 10:45 a.m. Saturday and winds through Downtown.
The parade has been going on for at least 30 years, said Trudy Ketcherside, one of the organizers.
The parade will have more than 70 entries, many of them veterans groups and Junior ROTC units.
"It's important to remember veterans," Ketcherside said. "We are not stopping at older veterans. We have younger veterans from Iraq and Afghan istan. It's very important to honor their efforts."
Spectators can line the entire route, but the best viewing is around San Jacinto Plaza, where there is a roped-off reviewing area.
A Fort Bliss color guard will lead the parade, followed by the 1st Armored Division Band, representatives from the post's command and a company of marching soldiers.
The parade grand marshal will be Robert Way, a former Marine and Vietnam veteran, Ketcherside said.
For those living on the East Side or the Lower Valley, there is the annual San Elizario Veterans Day Parade and Celebration, also Saturday.
The 2.5-mile-long parade starts at 9 a.m. at Thompson and Socorro roads, travels east along Socorro and ends in front of the presidio chapel in San Elizario. It takes about an hour, said Ray Borrego, chairman of the San Elizario Veterans Committee.
After the parade, the event will continue with the "celebration" portion at Veterans Memorial Plaza. The parade's grand marshal, Ramon Holguin, a Vietnam veteran, will be honored, along with five other vets with San Elizario ties.
The event will also include a candle ceremony, a POW/MIA Table ceremony and a flag-folding ceremony done by the cadets of the Navy Junior ROTC at San Elizario High.
The San Elizario High School band will play patriotic music. A Fort Bliss chaplain will do the invocation and a Fort Bliss bugler will play taps.
Julia Gomez, UTEP student, will play "Amazing Grace" on bagpipes.
After the ceremony, parade participants and spectators will get free hot dogs, bags of chips and drinks courtesy of the San Elizario Veterans Committee.
In Northeast El Paso, a Veterans Day ceremony will be held instead of a parade.
The ceremony starts at 11 a.m. Sunday at Old Glory Memorial, 9570 Gateway North.
The parade will return next year when Veterans Day is on a Monday, said Jimmy Melver, president of the group that runs the monument.
Mayor John Cook, city Rep. Carl L. Robinson and retired Maj. Gen. Bill Riley, a former deputy commander at Fort Bliss, will speak.
David Burge may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 546-6126. Follow him on Twitter@dburge1962.
San Elizario parade
Northeast veterans ceremony