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Friends Organize Homecoming Parade for Post 9-11 Vets

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Chris DePhillips and Laurie Ipsen talk about their plans for the parade.

Chris DePhillips and Laurie Ipsen talk about their plans for the parade.

Roseanne Tellez Roseanne Tellez
Roseanne Tellez is the co-anchor of CBS 2 Chicago′s midday News at...
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CHICAGO (CBS) — There have been a lot of troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan finally coming home.

One week from tomorrow, Chicagoans will have a chance to show their support.

As Roseanne Tellez reports, the organizers may surprise you.

From Bud Billiken to Macy’s Thanksgiving, Chicago has no shortage of parades. But two people wanted to add another, a welcome home to post 9-11 veterans.

And from an apartment in the West Town neighborhood, Chris DePhillips and Laurie Ipsen made their idea a reality.

“We wanted people to remember they’re the ones who answered the call after September 11th,” said DePhillips. “They ran toward the fight they wanted to protect us.”

When asked about the kind of reception they got from the military, they said: “Very skeptical.”

Partly because neither had any ties to the military, nor any experience planning anything. But both had grandfathers who served in World War II and taught them about the importance of giving back.

As they solicited sponsors, made banners, and won city support, a funny thing happened. The group they wanted to thank, members of the military,wound up thanking them.

“It’s been overwhelming,”  Ipsen says. “How supportive and they embraced the idea how much they appreciate it, and it motivates us more each day to push through and make sure this happens.”

Next Saturday, on the one-year anniversary of the end of the Iraq war, men and women will be officially welcomed home.

“But what we never would have expected is for the difficulty of having a veteran who’s served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan come up to you and say hey this means something to us , thank you,” DePhillips says.

The welcome home parade on Columbus Drive kicks off Saturday Dec. 15, at noon. Chris and Laurie are counting 100 percent on donations.

To find out how to help, visit www.chicagowelcomeshometheheroes.org.

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