The City of Boston held its annual parade today to honor those who have served our country in decades past and in recent years.
And the parade began as conventionally as, well, one might imagine a conventional Veteran's Day parade might begin: Uniformed veterans, marching with banners bearing the names of divisions, accompanied by bag pipes, bugles, and "God Bless America."
But the parade became decidedly less conventional the further along it got.
A group of about a dozen veterans, carrying a rainbow banner bearing the name "Out Vets," drew enthusiastic applause.
Not far behind them, marched a large contingent -- likely one of the largest in the parade -- of members of Veterans For Peace, who continued marching beyond the official parade route to Faneuil Hall, where they held a rally.
Holding a banner for the group was Cambridge resident John Saint George, a retired schoolteacher and a veteran of the Vietnam War, where he served as a medic.
Asked how the mood was among his peers just days after the election, George was philosophical.
"A lot of these guys, they're realists," he said, waving around him. "We saw this coming."
George, who says he has been a member of anti-war groups for decades, said he saw his group's participation in the parade as a kind of civic duty.
"Given what's going on in the country, the conservative trends and the militaristic trends," he said, "I think it's always important to assert your humane values, your peace-loving values."
Nearby, and away from any crowd, Jake Mowles was busy with his own idea of doing Veteran's Day right: I happened to see him handing bags of clothing to two men who looked like they could use the help.
Mowles, a younger man who served in the 181st Engineer Company of Massachusetts in Afghanistan between 2012 and 2013, said that the men were homeless veterans, and that he and other members of his company felt it their duty to help.
"We support them still," Mowles said.