LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - An estimated 10,000 veterans are visiting Louisville for the VFW 114th National Convention. For vets like Manuel Raymond Jr., the camaraderie means more than reflecting on the past.
Raymond is here to ensure history isn't tucked away on a book shelf. He'll share his experience as a Marine during the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis after the Korean War to anyone who will listen.
"Most people don't realize what it was," said Raymond. "The VFW means the world to us because the organization protects our dignity, sacrifices and service."
Raymond credits the VFW for keeping vets optimistic - and Louisville for rolling out the welcome mat.
"They treat us real well here. I like Louisville," he said.
Fourth Street businesses may say the same.
"This has really helped our business. Having the VFW convention in town has put our numbers ahead of franchises across the country," said Paul Gilles, the owner of Zoup.
Raymond and thousands of other comrades are dining in downtown.
"The restaurants we go to, they give us discounts," said Raymond.
Gilles said it's apparently paying off. "Most establishments fall way off in July. We do not. All of it is because of what's going on at the International Convention Center."
"This is one of the best host cities we've ever had. Hopefully we'll come back," Raymond said.
The VFW National Convention is not open to the public, but a video link to the general session will stream live at www.vfw.org beginning at 8 a.m. July 22 through 24.