BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP/WIAT) — A patriotic procession billed as the nation’s longest-running Veterans Day parade rolled through Birmingham Thursday after taking a year off because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Birmingham held the very first parade that was called a veterans day parade,” Colonel Danny Sample confirmed. “Prior to 1947, it was known as Armistice Day. Raymond Weeks, a Birmingham native, petitioned to have it called veterans day to honor all veterans across all services to honor those in uniform.”

Over the parade’s 74 -year history, the procession had relocated to Midtown and Parkside during interstate construction. Then, in 2020, the National Veterans Day Parade was reduced to an online-only event in 2020 because of COVID-19 safety precautions.

The National Veterans Award Dinner was held Wednesday evening at the Sheraton Downtown Birmingham.

But this Veterans Day it will stretch through downtown Birmingham in a traditional format that includes military units, ROTC groups, floats, veterans organizations, high school bands and lots of waving flags.

“We’ll go through downtown Birmingham and see the skyline,” Colonel Sample said. “We’ll have the review stand right there in front of city hall.”

The head of the group that stages the parade said the goal is to have as normal of a parade as possible this year.

The Birmingham National Veterans Day Parade kicks off at 1:30 p.m. at the corner of 18th St N and 9th Street N.

“It’s also a way to honor the fallen who have fought for our country,” Sample said. “It’ such a great patriotic atmosphere that shows a love for our city, our state and our nation.”