A large American flag hanging from an extension of a fire truck waved in the breeze above the Veterans Day Parade route Wednesday as a fitting reminder of who and what the parade is really about.
Members of ROTC and JROTC, school bands, veterans' and military organizations marched the streets of downtown Bakersfield to grateful applause and cheers from the large crowd.
This year's parade theme was "90 Years of Honoring Our Veterans."
Horns from trucks and cars honked almost constantly as bands and children's choirs could be heard playing and singing patriotic songs throughout the parade. Many people on the streets carried flags, and at least one person wore an American flag-printed shirt.
Scattered throughout the crowd were veterans from past and current wars.
Standing on a street corner wearing a veterans hat was Jack Park, 83, a World War II veteran who served in the Army Air Corps, which he said existed before the Air Force was established in 1947.
"I just want to support the participants," he said.
James Leon, 59, served in the Navy during Vietnam on the USS Long Beach.
"I came to express my appreciation for everyone serving now and in the past," he said of the parade.
Leon said that as a Native American, being a warrior means a lot to his people.
He added that he also comes to the Veterans Day Parade as a way to make up for the fact that returning Vietnam veterans weren't celebrated.
Joseph White, 26, served in the Army as a cavalry scout during Operation Iraqi Freedom between 2003 and 2004 and then again in 2005 and 2006. He wore a vintage World War II jacket while attending the parade as a way to pay respect to veterans from previous wars.
Major General David Eichhorn from Edwards Air Force Base was this year's grand marshal, said Pat Carter, Veterans Day Parade chairman and coordinator.