Hiawatha Parade Honors Staff Sergeant Sal Giunta

By Mark Carlson, Reporter

Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta, of Hiawatha, Iowa, the first living Medal of Honor recipient from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, waves to the crowd as he rides on the back of a Hiawatha fire truck with his wife Jennifer during a parade in his honor Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010 in Hiawatha. (Brian Ray/ SourceMedia Group News)

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By Kelli Sutterman

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Hundreds of people lined the streets of Hiawatha to welcome home Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta Tuesday.

Many were just hoping to catch a glimpse of their new hometown hero.

“It brings tears to my eyes when I think about him,” said Ginny Huisman, an Eastern Iowa native.

Alongside his wife, Jennifer, Giunta waved to the crowd from atop a Hiawatha firetruck. Some people along the parade route used the moment to educate.

“I’ve lived in Iowa all my life, for 70 years,” said Anogene Varner, “My husband and brothers were in the service and I’m very proud.”

Varner brought two of her grandchildren to the parade. She hopes the experience will help show them the impact veterans have on America.

Many veterans also were at Tuesdays parade.

“It hits home, and you have so much respect for a person that puts out this effort,” said Mike Wood, a Vietnam veteran.

“It’s very heart warming, very emotional,” said Kurtis Bower, a veteran of the war in Iraq, “To do what Sergeant Giunta did, he experienced loss, he overcame his odds, and he actually came out on top that day.”

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