St. Louis hosting 1st big parade on Iraq War's end

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ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Crowds are gathering in downtown St. Louis to honor Iraq War veterans during the nation's first big welcome home parade since the last troops left Iraq in December.

Organizers say that while the Saturday afternoon event marks the end of the Iraq War, any military personnel involved in post-Sept. 11 conflicts are welcome to participate.

Since the war ended, there has been little fanfare for returning veterans. There have been gatherings at airports and military bases, but no ticker-tape parades or large public celebrations.

Two friends from St. Louis decided to change that. They sought donations, launched a Facebook page, met with the mayor and mapped a route.

They raised about $35,000, with more than half coming from Anheuser-Busch and the Mayflower moving company, which both have St. Louis ties.