EMPORIA, Kan. (WIBW) -- The Founding City of Veterans Day - cheered the nation's servicemen and women like the champions that they are.
From grade schoolers to the governor, they all came out to salute.
America wasn't always this hospitable to those who returned from war.
"For Vietnam vets especially. When I came back here, we weren't very well liked or thought of highly," said Ryan Dvoracek.
He spent 21 months and 15 days in Vietnam, he said, and vividly remembers his biggest fears.
"Being afraid, 24 hours a day. It would be the worst thing I could think of. Never knowing if you're going to see home again."
But another fear was being forgotten.
"When we didn't get our letters, that was rough," he said.
To see the festivities and hear the cheers today meant a lot to him, he said. "This is really outstanding for me. I really am just awed with it."
What was once known as Armistice Day was changed to Veterans Day thanks to the efforts of an Emporian man, Alvin King, who wanted to honor veterans from all wars and conflicts. The first Veterans Day was celebrated in Emporia in 1953, before it became a nationwide observance.
Staff Sergeant Bill Prior, attending the parade with his family, said he was proud to be part of that legacy.
"It's a great sense of pride for me, because I'm actually from Emporia, so i'm a hometown kid, so it's really exciting to see all this going on and being a part of it," he said.
Emporians' tribute to veterans of past and present wars is heard and emulated today around the country.
Retired Colonel Steve Bucci, who visited from Washington D.C. and spoke at the All Veterans Memorial said, "If this day had just stayed armistice day, it might have faded in our memory. But because of this community, this day will never fade in our memory."