BELFAST — Dozens of people gathered Nov. 11 to watch Belfast’s Veterans Day parade. More people attended the parade this year compared to the last four or five years, Randall Collins VFW Post 3108 Commander Anthony Kimble said. The VFW organizes the parade every year.

This year, the Belfast Area High School band marched in the parade, along with Boy Scout Troop 37. Participants marched from the high school on Waldo Avenue, then turned down Main Street and continued to the waterfront next to Nautilus.

Gabriel Bruns of BAHS won the Voice of Democracy essay contest this year. Local home-schooled student Elijah Nelson, Troy Howard Middle School’s Jackson Meehan and Mount View Middle School’s Julia Richards were all winners in the Patriots Pen essay contest. Elijah donated his winnings back to the VFW.

“Focus,” a musical set in the Vietnam War era, is to be performed at the American Legion Post 43 this evening, produced by Opera That Rocks Productions. The show is touring to raise money for veterans.

Kimble said with COVID-19 vaccines being administered people are more comfortable this year going events than last year. He said the parade was better attended than the organization’s Memorial Day Parade in May.

“I think people were really eager to get out and celebrate and have a reason to celebrate,” he said.

Ames Elementary School teacher Briana Brennick was nominated by the VFW this year for the Smart/Maher VFW National Citizenship Education Teacher Award for her efforts to help local veterans. Four years ago, local teacher Sarah Nelson was nominated by the VFW and won the district and state award, VFW Operations Manager Jim Roberts said.

Brennick has organized events like Hygiene for Heroes and the Candy Challenge for overseas troops, she said. She also invites the VFW to come to school events to help connect veterans with kids. Her students enjoy seeing the veterans in their uniforms.

She got involved with the VFW because she noticed all the ways members support the community beyond themselves, she said. “It’s just all their work they do for the community, so not just supporting them as former service people,” she said.

Most people either know a veteran or are related to one, Kimble said. Most veterans do not talk about their service to strangers, but will usually talk to family or other veterans.

He thinks one good way to honor veterans frequently is to talk to them and ask them about their duty, he said. Veterans do not always like to be thanked, because it is not why they joined the military, but sometimes they just want to share their stories.

“There’s a lot of stuff going on in the world that sometimes a veteran just needs someone to talk to,” he said. “… Just to get them to talk about some of their service, they enjoy that. So, just talk to a veteran.”