Wearing the Miss America crown has put Kira Kazantsev front and center at many important events around the world, but participating in the National Memorial Day Parade will be among the "biggest honors" of her year.
"I get to do some pretty awesome stuff, but this is one of the biggest honors of my year," Kazantsev said. "As Miss America, it is my responsibility to give back to the troops and thank them for their service in person. And what better opportunity than the veterans parade on Memorial Day?"
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Kazantsev will be riding a float in the parade and also performing "God Bless America." She said she will not be performing with a red Solo-brand cup, as she did to win the Miss America pageant, and that she "will keep it classic for Memorial Day."
Kazantsev said that visiting veterans both here and abroad on an international USO tour has been one of the most rewarding experiences she has had as Miss America.
"It really puts life in perspective for you," she said. "I’ve been given the opportunity to be reminded that our freedoms are provided by these people and that if it weren’t for our service men and women, then we wouldn’t have the things that we have today."
"As Miss America, I have been able to witness it first hand and visit them at hospitals and at events with wounded warriors and listen to their stories."
Kazantsev has tried to make raising awareness for veterans issues one of the core goals of her year as Miss America.
"I want to give back as much as I can while I have the title of Miss America," she said. "The crown has a lot of power and gives me a loud voice. I hope to raise awareness on what our military does, what they need, and what our veterans coming home need."
She has had the opportunity to meet many veterans who have returned from combat. "Coming from deployed life back into civilian life can be a really challenging thing, and a lot of us civilians don’t understand that," she said.
Participating in the parade, which will feature dozens of World War II veterans to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Allied victory, will be a culmination of Kazantsev’s mission.
"It’s going to be a great day and a great event," she said.