TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Tucsonans said their own thank yous to veterans Friday with a parade through downtown.
This day of gratitude for all veterans for their service began as Armistice Day immediately after World War One. Now it is a day for for all of us to say thank you.
Veterans Day is a day when people march with their hearts as well as their feet, as they think of the men and women who risked everything to build our world and keep it safe.
Not everyone marched through the parade. A war wound from Vietnam had Navy vet George R. Norton rolling down the parade route through with the Lobos Wheelchair basketball team.
He says, “'It's almost like I finally got my parade. My dad was in the Second World War, my brother, I just lost both of them not too long ago was in Korea and I was in Vietnam. So we love this country. We have a great future coming up and just optimistic about the whole world."
The parade Grand Marshal had a remarkable wartime history that includes the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Leading off the parade on a beautiful sunny day, is a man who saw another beautiful day turn to smoke, blood and death.
That day was at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, December 7th, 1941. The man is Army veteran Maurice Storck.
He says, “We saw the planes. You could look up and see the pilot. But everybody thought it was maneuvers; that there was a red force fighting a blue force.
KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith asked: “Because they had red markings on the planes?”
Storck: “Yeah. And the ground was the blue force. They dropped these things. We saw them come out, the bombs but we thought they were flour sacks that's what they use in maneuvers, a flour sack and it marks out a certain radius. But this time it was the bombs and it hit the mess hall and the mess hall went right up in the air and come apart in the air and there was hundreds of guys in the mess hall from the air base that was killed."
As an Army soldier he especially remembers the battle for Guadalcanal. There he had a reputation as an accomplished scrounger able to get anything, even on an island in a war zone.
"They would send me at different times out to get cigarettes for the outfit and I might come back a week afterwards with a 3/4 ton weapons truck full of cigarettes and so forth---different things like that."
One trick was to talk his way onto Navy ships and swap souvenirs like Japanese weapons for supplies the Army couldn't get.
Now he says he's one of just two soldiers left from his old unit, proud to be honored on this Veterans Day.
Veteran vehicles are a big part of the parade, and they carry memories for the Veterans too. Butch Morgan served 40 years in the Marines, Army National Guard , Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard. This Veterans Day he's driving the same sort of truck he drove as a Marine in Vietnam.
Craig Smith asked: “So this brings you back?”
Smith: “You driving today or you'd rather ride? I'm driving. I'm the only one who can drive it. Only one that knows how right now,”
Now that the draft is long gone, many Americans never know firsthand the sacrifice of serving in uniform---the danger and deployments far from home that a whole family will feel.
But a day like today is one way the rest of us can say thanks.