In American culture, there are days and events by which you mark your calendar. In Redwood City, they do so with the fourth of July parade.
"It's a highlight of the year," said a parade watcher.
"It's the patriotism of the parade," said another parade watcher.
And at a time when American soldiers face combat, even more so.
"Don't you feel it when the bands come by, and the enthusiasm of these people who participate?" asked Vince Trucelli from Redwood City.
For the record, the Redwood City Independence Day Parade has taken place every Fourth of July since 1939. They say it's the biggest west of the Mississippi and is the biggest in California.
Typical of any Fourth of July parade, it celebrated freedom and also sacrifice. The crowd cheered loudly for world war two veterans.
"We had one gentleman who fought in Normandy and I've only read about something like that. That kind of spirit is what I wanted when I joined the military," said Sergeant Johnny Moreno with the U.S. Army.
What most of the crowd did not know, is that this time next year, the men driving these trucks will be in Iraq. Moreno will be leaving his family for the third time.
"What they love about what I do is that, I love it," said Moreno.
These soldiers are airborne from Texas. They never expected such a big turnout on the Fourth of July in this liberal part of America. They were surprised how for the parade patriotism and politics co-existed.
"I'd like to shake their hand," said a parade watcher.
There were old soldiers, new soldiers, and somewhere in this crowd, maybe future soldiers too. Americana was brought together by this one day every year, and a 69 year old tradition.
"There's a lot of negativity, but seeing this is very warming," said Sgt. Zachary Reiss with the U.S. Army.