CHICAGO — Thousands of people on Friday solemnly remembered American troops killed in the Persian Gulf War during a brief interlude from a festive parade honoring returning service members.
Spectators lined up 15 rows deep, waving flags, tossing confetti and cheering the war veterans marching about a mile down Michigan Avenue. Parade organizers said the event was held on behalf of veterans of all wars.
Gen. Colin L. Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, served as grand marshal. He saluted the 540,000 U.S. servicemen and women sent to the Persian Gulf.
"The pride you demonstrated to us . . . was what made our victory so decisive and so overwhelming," Powell told the cheering crowd.
Louder cheers greeted a serviceman driving a Patriot missile battery down the street. Organizers expected 20,000 people to attend, but thousands more showed up, according to police estimates.
"It's just wonderful to see the soldiers back in their homeland, knowing that not too many lives were lost," said Melida Landor, who handed out 200 "Desert Storm" T-shirts to marching veterans. She said she paid $800 for the shirts featuring a map of the Middle East.
Veterans and high school marching bands passed the reviewing stand in front of the Chicago Art Institute. Powell was joined on stage by Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar and Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley.
Transportation Secretary Samuel K. Skinner, Labor Secretary Lynn Martin and Veterans Affairs Secretary Edward J. Derwinski also made appearances on the grandstand during the parade.
The parade took on a solemn note when an announcer read the names of 12 Illinois servicemen who died in the Persian Gulf.
"With all the celebrating going on, we wanted to make sure we didn't forget those people," said Russell Anderson, general chairman of the parade.
About 50 anti-war demonstrators draped themselves in black clothing and stood less than one block from the reviewing stand, wearing signs to call attention to the Iraqi dead in the war.