SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Springfield resident, Al Rodriguez is one of 19 million veterans in our country.

“I got to be honest with you. I get emotional. Its a sense of gratitude because a thank you goes a long way,” said Al Rodriguez of Springfield.

Springfield residents came out to show their support for them on this Veterans Day, that began with a parade. Marchers made their way from the STCC campus to Court Square for a ceremony to salute all those who put their country first.

“We hereby proclaim November 11th, 2021 as Veterans Day,” said Mayor Domenic Sarno.

A day that shines the light on veterans from past wars that live among us.

“A thousand of us went to Vietnam, we are old but we are not dead yet,” said Gumersindo Gomez, a Springfield Vietnam Veteran.

U.S. Army veteran Donald Roberts was named veteran of the year. Across the street, the traditional laying of wreaths in front of the war monuments on Veterans Way, a reminder of their sacrifice.

“I wear this bracelet, a veterans bracelet, said Mayor Sarno. “Even if I’m having a tough, trying day. the bracelet reminds me what veterans went through and continue to go through and those who made the ultimate sacrifice.”

“Its something you cant take for granted it think a lot too, said Al Rodriguez. “We have a beautiful country. Its freedom man and its freedom because of people sacrificing their lives.

This was a downsized Veterans Day parade, a COVID-19 precaution instituted by the Department of Health and Human Services. The hope is to get it back to full scale next year.