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Veteran honored with parade on his 95th birthday

“I got a lot to thank God for,” Julian Morales said. “One for letting me walk this ground this long. And I have my family. They always support me.”

LAKE WORTH, Texas — Julian Morales doesn’t talk much about his time at war. The Army veteran would rather talk about the bevy of children and grandchildren and great grandchildren he’s been blessed with in his 95 years. Wednesday, on his 95th birthday, his family, friends and neighbors tried to show him how much of a blessing he’s been to them too.

Retired Master Sgt. Julian Morales served three tours in Vietnam. He suffered more than two years as a POW during the Korean War. He served 25 years in the military. And, in his 65-year marriage to his wife Anastasia, raised seven daughters and enjoyed a successful career in residential and commercial construction.

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“I got a lot to thank God for,” he told us from his home in Lake Worth. “One for letting me walk this ground this long. I have my family. They always support me.”

But on Wednesday he was surprised to find a couple dozen close friends filing into his living room. He assumed they were here to wish him a happy birthday before he departed to one of his favorite Oklahoma casinos.

“They’re friends. They love me and I love them,” he said. “They’re here for me and I’m there for them. That’s the best I can put it.”

But his family wanted to tell Julian the same thing — just a bit louder.

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“Ok Dad we have a surprise for you,” his daughter Lala Morales said as they stood next to a massive 95th birthday sign placed by the city of Lake Worth in his front yard. Then, right on cue at 1 p.m., sirens sounded nearby and a parade of Lake Worth police vehicles and fire trucks and public works vehicles and friends and neighbors in their own cars drove by his corner lot on Caddo Trail.

The mini parade was a surprise heartfelt gesture that was enough to make a grown daughter cry.

“Because I still have my Daddy and he’s 95. And so many people got together to come out to celebrate him,” Lala Morales said as they continued to wave at the passing cars.

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“I don’t want them to wait for them to pass and celebrate the veteran that he is and the man that he is. I want them to celebrate him now for the man that still stands.”

“Man, this is a birthday,” Julian Morales said.

Oh, and the remarkably fit 95-year-old plans to still be standing at 100 when we can celebrate him all over again.