SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- In a time where it appears our country is divided, Veterans Day provides an opportunity to come together, united, to celebrate and thank those who served our country.
In San Jose, the city marked the holiday with the annual Veterans Day Parade.
So residents gathered together to cheer, wave and thank them for their service.
Gratitude that means so much for Korean War vet Corporal Calvin Wong, who is thankful to celebrate Veterans Day for many reasons.
"I didn't expect to come back alive because I was right on the front line," Wong said. "Infantrymen didn't last very long over there."
"So Veterans Day is really special for you?" ABC7 News Reporter Dustin Dorsey asked.
"Yes," Wong said.
The San Jose Veterans Day parade is celebrating its 104th anniversary.
A tradition born just before some of the World War II heroes in attendance Friday.
The holiday gives them a chance to look back on what they fought for, some remembering arriving at Omaha Beach.
"I was only 20 years old when I got off on the beach," World War II Veteran Ysidor Sanchez said. "I could use other words, but it was scary. It's beautiful that they don't forget the sacrifice."
"Brings back memories," World War II Veteran Marvin Bertelson said. "We liberated concentration camps at Landsberg, Germany. That was quite a site for a 19-year-old kid. I thought it was quite an honor."
During a week dominated by talk of "Red Waves" and "Blue Waves," we were focused today on the waving of the red, white and blue and thankful for the freedom it symbolizes, because of these heroes.
"These people can vote because of what we did," Vietnam War Veteran Steven Gruba said. "We have a free country and I can do what I want to do, like come out here and celebrate Veterans Day."
Thank you to all the men and women who served and happy Veterans Day.
Veterans Day as only Petaluma can do it, hosting one of the largest parades in Northern California and lots of flags waving.
"This parade means a lot to the community honoring those individuals who gave their lives for our freedom," said parade organizer Joe Noriel.
"It means a whole lot, I have veterans who lost their lives in Vietnam and elsewhere, by saluting them and celebrating them makes us feel good, they sacrificed their lives for us," said Joe Allen, Sr.
99-year-old Joe Graverman was there, he served in World War II.
"In those days, everybody jumped on board, to see what they could do to save this country, we were really attacked," said Graverman.
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Paul Lewis served as grand marshal, he says the honor was unexpected. This year's theme is "you are not forgotten," honoring Korean War vets, like Paul.
"It was the forgotten war. In my time it's not going to be forgotten, we're fading out just like McArthur said, old soldiers never die, they just fade away," said Lewis.
Veteran Bonnie Templeton was there supporting her dad, Gerald a Vietnam vet.
"Especially watching my dad in tears, watching all the vets come by it means a lot," said Templeton.
"I went 40 years and I never heard a word, I'm proud to hear it now," said Gerald Brink.
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