KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — On Friday, Knoxville celebrated veterans with its annual parade. The parade is almost a century-long tradition.
People from all over East Tennessee gathered on Gay Street for this year's event. The rain did not stop people from coming out and some had umbrellas in one hand and the U.S. flag in the other.
"It gives me it gives me goosebumps, just seeing everyone out here", said Phillip Hanner, a U.S Navy veteran.
Some people came to the parade to enjoy fellowship with other veterans and others came to show their support.
"We just absolutely love the veterans. We love to support them, love that they fought for our freedom, we've gone every year ever since my kids were little," said Cherri Dubes, a mother who brought her kids to the parade.
Veterans Day officially became a U.S. holiday in 1954, but people in Knoxville started celebrating veterans way before then. The parade was started by the American Legion Post Two and this was the city's 97th Veterans Day parade.
"The turnout for everybody that came out is really great," said John Pontiff, a former U.S Marine Corps servicemember.
Even in the rain, marching bands from other schools performed and veterans from all branches of the military waved to the crowd from their vehicles. For many, the national holiday is a time to remember relatives who served and recognize those who are keeping family traditions going.
"Both my grandfathers were Air Force vets, and now I have a daughter that is in the Air Force and serving our country," said Hanner.
Pontiff says while it is nice to see people show gratitude, this is also a day to reflect.
"I've lost a lot of friends. and it's time I was in. So it's a time to honor them. It's a good time to reflect it's time to really just be appreciative of what we have because of the sacrifice so many people before us have made," he said.