Albany Veterans Day Parade: 'We owe this to our veterans'

Albany Veterans Day Parade:  'We owe this to our veterans' »Play Video

ALBANY, Ore. -- Veteran Lester Cummings is no stranger to parades.

"I spent 20 years in the Marines. I was a drill instructor for three years, I was in a parade every Friday for three years," he said. "I love parades."

Bands marched, cars honked and servicemen and women walked to the cheers of the crowd at the 60th Annual Veterans Day parade in Albany.

"I'm really happy that they bring kids along," said Cummings. "Kids need to know that somebody fought for what [they]...take for granted."

"It's kind of fun to look at and stuff," said seven-year-old Hayden Dye.

Some families sat street side to watch family.

"I know that as long as my kids have been alive, we've been bringing them down here," said Sharla Mesecher from Lebanon. Mesecher said this was the first year her daughter was marching down the parade route with the Lebanon High School band.

"We owe this to our veterans, the gratitude," said Mesecher. "When you see them sitting along here, walking up and just thanking them for their service, and letting them know that we appreciate our freedoms and everything they fought for."

While some spectators said the event is an important education experience for anyone, one man said it's more personal than that; the parade is an emotional tribute to heroes like his brother.

"My brother was a combat pilot in Vietnam," said Eugene resident Jim Millard (at left). "And I'm here because of him. I'm here because I'm a veteran and I enjoyed my time in the service, and was grateful that I could do that."

Millard's brother -- who went by Charlie during his service days -- was shot down in April 1968.

"We, the family, did not know what his status was for 34 years," remembered Millard. Eventually, Millard said a recovery team went to the crash site.

"They found fragments, one tooth, bone fragments and pilot paraphernalia like buckles and straps and that sort of thing."

DNA testing confirmed the fragments belonged to Millard's brother.

"So he -- the fragments -- is buried in Arlington National Cemetery, which hits me right in the heart. And that's why I'm here," said Millard.