The National Memorial Day Parade, presented by the American Veterans Center, commemorated four historic anniversaries on Monday.
The event, held in Washington, D.C., recognized the 100th anniversary of America's entry into World War I, the 75th anniversary of its entry into World War II, the continuing 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, and the 70th Anniversary of the United States Air Force.
"America has to celebrate its veterans, both past and active duty," said retired Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, gesturing to the parade as the crowd cheered for veterans passing by. "You can hear it in the background; this is what it's about."
Myers, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, served as one of the parade's grand marshals, along with acclaimed filmmakers Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. Both Burns and Novick are collaborating on a new documentary, The Vietnam War, which will air in September on PBS.
Saluting fallen soldiers from each generation, the parade was presented in chronological order. It was a "moving timeline of American military history," said James C. Robert, founder of the American Veterans Center, "calling attention to the true meaning of the holiday—honoring and remembering our fallen heroes, and commemorating the American spirit and sacrifices of all who have served throughout our shared history."
Tim Holbert, executive director of the center, said the best part of the Memorial Day Parade is seeing the public appreciation for the active duty troops, veterans, and gold star families participating in the event.
"It's such a great opportunity for people to come out and say thank you for the families that have made the sacrifice, as well as the veterans participating," Holbert said.