San Jose's oldest tradition returns as Veterans Day parade rolls through downtown

"Freedom isn't free and one way or another, we all serve."
SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- On Veteran's Day, there aren't enough words to show appreciation for those who served.

But in San Jose, it's the city "thank you" with the annual Veterans Day parade. Northern California's biggest Veterans Day parade is also San Jose's oldest tradition.

"Freedom isn't free and one way or another, we all serve," U.S. Army (Ret.) Sgt. Maj. Jim Salas said. "Many of us wear the uniform, many of us don't. But the fact that everyone is here to support gives a very powerful and very good message to all."

Cheers rang out throughout Downtown for service men and women from many eras.

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World War II vet U.S. Navy (Ret.) ACEM Victor Bertoldo says this day is always special.

"I think it's the greatest thing there is," Bertoldo said. "It's a feeling that they have forgotten - the vets. The lifestyle is different from when I was in the service. It's a big thing."

Remembering the vets was on the mind of Grand Marshall William Peacock.

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While he is always thankful for support on November 11, he hopes it continues year-round.

"Every day on the average, 22 veterans commit suicide (died by suicide) and that says a lot about how America is treating our veterans," U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Col. William Peacock said. "There are a lot of homeless veterans out there and a lot of people who need with drugs and alcohol abuse and that's what we're really working on."

The parade looked the same this year, but, in a way, it was different.

The tradition returns after a year off due to the pandemic. It was a welcomed sight for everyone here.

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"When I found out, I looked online and found out that it was going to be today, I was so happy," U.S. Navy (Ret.) LTJG Lew Ammann said. "I could hardly wait to get here."

"It's amazing," U.S. Army (Ret.) Col. Joe Mjolsness said. "It's a great experience to be here and to see everyone come out from all walks of life. We really appreciate the chance and the commitment that people have to keep this going."

To all who served: thank you and Happy Veterans Day.

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