SALINAS, Calif. (KION) The biggest Veterans Day event on the Central Coast took to the streets of Oldtown Salinas for the ninth year in a row.
There were roughly 20,000 people flooding the streets of Salinas, from active duty, to military veterans and plenty who just wanted to embody what they say Veterans Day is all about.
The festivities kicked off with the honor guard, and then the playing of taps before the parade marched down Main Street.
“Love of country. All the people that come out to parades like this are showing their appreciation for all the veterans that have served this county and make America as great a county this is,” Marine Corp Veteran Derrick Howell said.
The future and the past of our military paraded down the road with cheers from the crowds that lined Oldtown Salinas.
“Millions and millions of solders have crossed through fort ordinance going on to WW2, Korea, Vietnam and even the beginning of the first Gulf War. There was a rich history there as well as multi generation families that still live in this community,” U.S. Army Veteran Tony Virrueta said.
“I think about my brothers in arms that didn’t come home. People that I still wonder about if they ever did come home that I trained with and worked with,” Coast Guard and U.S. Army Veteran Doug Huckins said.
Many, like Huckins, can’t help but be emotional surrounded by family and the thousands here to salute them.
“It makes my heart swell up. I think I can speak for probably all veterans that it means so much to have people show up and say thank you,” Huckins said.
Even those who didn’t serve in the military say this day has a special meaning.
“It warms my heart, because they need that support and love from everyone,” Danette Elliott said.
“I want my kids to learn that everything comes with sacrifices whether you choose to join the military or not,” Jose Canchola said.
This parade got started almost a decade ago when Virrueta and a few others realized there was nothing in downtown Salinas to honor the rich military history of the area.