White doves, a military flyover and music from the Fresno State marching band kicked off the 92nd annual Fresno Veterans Day Parade, while thousands of spectators lined the downtown streets to honor our nation's service men and women.
"It's our yearly thing," said Maryann Evans of Fresno. "The Grandkids bring Grandpa to the Veterans Parade."
The parade was dubbed the largest on the west coast. For nine decades it's served as an iconic symbol of Fresno's commitment to those who've protected our freedom. This year, the United States Army was the honorary branch of the military, 9,000 veterans and individuals participated.
One of them was combat Vietnam War veteran, Ray Ramos, who's played his bugle at the parade for the last 10 years.
"It's probably one of the greatest honors of my life," said Ramos. "I enjoy playing this bugle. This bugle is a captured horn from Vietnam. I brought it back in 1967 and I use it now to honor those that passed away."
Ramos served in Vietnam for several years. He says out of the 47 men in his platoon only eight made it home alive. When he took a look around at the size of the crowd, his eyes swelled up with tears.
"It makes me glad to be an American," said Ramos. "When I see people line the streets, it does my heart really really good, because when I came home from Vietnam, no one did that, no one honored us."
Also a part of this year's parade was the U.S. Capitol Christmas tree. The 60 foot white fir was selected from the Stanislaus National Forest and was carried in on an 87 foot long big rig, before heading off to Washington D.C.
With hands on their hearts and holding up signs of gratitude, people we talked with told us the parade was the perfect opportunity to say "Thank You" to the men and women who've risked their lives for our country.
"It's good for everyone to see them, to recognize them and tell them you did a great job," said Vietnam War Veteran, Cleve Evans.
"Without them, where would be?" said his wife Maryann Evans.
This year's parade was broadcast on the Pentagon Channel, reaching 30,000 households in the United States and 370 military bases around the world via satellite.