ALBANY, Ore. – At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, World War I formally ended in 1918. And on Monday, the eleventh day of November 2013, thousands of people filled the streets of Albany for its 62nd annual Veterans Day parade at 11:00 am.
The parade, thought by organizers to be the largest Veterans Day Parade west of the Mississippi, draws in an estimated 40,000 spectators annually. It has become a tradition for kids, parents, veterans, and anyone who wants to show their support for veterans.
“I went to Vietnam at 18,” said Veteran Garey Price of Salem. “I spent my 19th birthday in a bunker in Vietnam with artillery shells coming in.”
This year was the first time Price had attended Albany’s parade. He says he enjoys attending events for veterans, something he says have changed over time. Price says he still has a difficult time forgetting his experience coming back from Vietnam.
“Well, when I came home – it was – people did not respect us for what we did,” he said.
Price says though he chose to enlist, the draft forced many others into the military without choice.
“There are still people who are against the war and against war in general,” he said. “And that’s fine. Just don’t take it out on the veterans.”
When Price came back from Vietnam, he says it was hard to even talk about the type of homecoming he received.
“We didn’t even discuss it among ourselves at the time. It probably took me 25 years to start talking about it.”
But Price says times have changed. One veteran, US Air Force Captain Josh Burnett says he has served in Korea and Morocco.
“I was treated very well,” Burnett said about coming home. “The people of the United States are just incredibly supportive of their troops in general. I’m just very appreciative of that.”
On Monday, Price says he could not be more pleased to see the tens of thousands of people lining the streets of Albany to show their support for Veterans.
“It makes me feel great,” he said. “Kind of warm and fuzzy inside.”
Three-year-old Jesse Younger came to the parade with his mother. If there is one thing he could say to any veteran, it would be: “Thank you for your service.”