It could have been a lot worse.
The temperature was 87 degrees at the start of the annual national convention parade in downtown Houston, and the humidity was at 75 percent. But considering the heat the previous day had reached the mid-90s – as well as the rain clouds that threatened before the parade – all went well Sunday afternoon for the parade participants, Legionnaires and Houston residents gathered downtown.
"It's Texas, so it's going to be hot, and it's going to be humid," said Lawrence G. Romo, director of U.S. Selective Service System and a member of Legion Post 2 in San Antonio. "But it could have been a lot hotter, and there actually was a tropical storm system coming up that could have hit us. So we got pretty lucky."
The 78-unit parade included delegates from every Legion department, the color guard national champs from Post 472 in Houston, bands, and the Spirit of Service and American Legion youth award winners. Retired Brig. Gen. Joe E. Ramirez Jr., commandant of the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets, was the grand marshal, while immediate Past National Commander Fang Wong served as honorary grand marshal.
As usual, a contingent of American Legion Riders led off the parade, and after the Foreign and Outlying Departments and Posts of The American Legion appeared, the Department of Tennessee led the parade of remaining Legion departments – based on Tennessee's Legion-leading membership efforts this year.
"It makes you proud (to lead the parade)," Department of Tennessee National Executive Committeeman Charlie R. Dornan said. "There's great comradeship in the parade, a real fellowship. These volunteers marching in the parade are what The American Legion is."
U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, who represents Texas' 18th District, sat in the reviewing stand for the parade. "I wanted to welcome The American Legion," she said. "I have great respect for the Legion, and today gives me an opportunity to support and welcome what I consider to be one of the strongest veterans groups in the country."
Lee said Texas – because of its patriotism – is a perfect place for the Legion's convention. Romo agreed.
"Texas is very pro-military, and we really try to take care of our military, their families and our veterans," he said. "It doesn't matter if you're a Republican or a Democrat. We work in a very bipartisan effort when it comes to taking care of those people."