George Spencer, 71, and his wife, Sharon, stood along Officers Row watching the 27th annual Veterans Parade at Fort Vancouver presented by the Lough Legacy on Saturday.
As recent arrivals in Clark County, it was the Spencers' first time to view the parade. They were treated to dry weather and a display of more than 2,500 individuals -- including veterans, Gold Star families, scout troops, Buffalo Soldiers and marching bands -- at the Fort Vancouver National Site.
"I see so many young faces here," said George Spencer, who served two tours in Vietnam and traveled the world during a 22-year stint in the Marine Corps. "That makes everything I did worthwhile."
"My favorite part, other than the military, was watching the Prairie High School Junior ROTC and the Young Marines from Clark County," he said. "That shows how military life is shared with the community here."
Martin and Marilyn Siebrasse, newcomers from Palm Beach, Fla., also were watching their first parade. Martin, 68, served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1963 to 1967 and did a 1965-66 tour in Vietnam.
"It takes a long time to transition back in," Siebrasse said. "I think I was ducking under chairs for about 10 years."
"He's all right now," Marilyn said, rubbing her husband's back.
Tim Brotherton from Camas brought his son, Nate Brotherton, 6, to the parade. "I come with the kids almost every year to teach them an appreciation for the military," he said. "Nate likes the Buffalo Soldiers and their horses."
"And the candy!" said Nate.
Almost as if on cue, a parade participant stopped in front of Nate and offered a piece of candy.
Both father and son waved American flags. All along the parade route, 2,500 flags had been given to parade-goers by volunteers of the Fort Vancouver National Trust, the nonprofit that organizes the parade.
Although the Barclay family of Hockinson has lived in the county for 23 years, this was their first parade. Parents Jeff and Julie Barclay have older children who are in high school. Waving flags next to their parents were the Barclays' adopted sons, Sam and Noah Barclay, both 11 and students at Hockinson Middle School.
"Julie's dad did two tours in Korea," Jeff Barclay said.
"During World War II, my grandpa transported POWs to Vancouver Barracks," Julie Barclay said.
What did the younger Barclays think about the parade?
"I like the spirit. The energy," Noah said.
As the Junior ROTC from Prairie High School marched by, Noah added, "It reminds me of how lucky we are."
Pauline Schenkelberg, 68, stood at attention, hand over her heart as the flag passed by. She's attended the parade every year since she moved to Vancouver in 1985.
"I wouldn't miss it," she said.
As she watched the parade, Schenkelberg's busy hands worked at crocheting a scarf. She's making several scarves to donate to Chronis' Restaurant for its outreach to the homeless at Thanksgiving.
Military service runs deep in Schenkelberg's family.
"I have two sons in the Navy, one retired now. My husband was in the Navy," she said. "His dad was in the Navy. One of my brothers was in the Navy; the other, in the Air Force. And my sister married a man in the Air Force."
Schenkelberg said her father wasn't allowed to serve in World War II because he already had four children and a wife who was pregnant with twins. Her grandson joined the Navy just last week.
"Everybody who's in this parade is supporting the veterans," Schenkelberg said, her busy hands working the yarn. "It gives us a chance to support our veterans just by standing here, clapping for them. The sad part is when it ends."