Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller testifies on Capitol Hill on Feb. 2, 2016, before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing to examine the implementation of the decision to open all ground combat units to women. Cliff Owen/AP

The top general of the U.S. Marine Corps visited Chattanooga on Friday for the city’s first Armed Forces Day parade since five service members were killed in a July 16 terrorist attack last year.

Gen. Robert Neller, commandant of the Marine Corps, said he felt honored to attend the event and hoped his presence served as a "thank you" to the Chattanooga community.

"The events that took place last July 16 were tragic and needless, but I think out of that came a recognition that the relationship between this community and the military is as strong as ever," he said. "And as tragic as the loss of those Marines and that sailor were, the only thing that could be worse is if we didn’t have communities like Chattanooga that are willing to support their military and provide great young men and women to serve."

Neller watched the parade from an elevated podium on Market Street. Under a breezy, blue sky, he saluted and waved as local students, veterans, patriotic groups and bands marched past.

People lined Market Street, lifting cell phones and craning to see. Some wore red, white and blue, others donned T-shirts that declared,…

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