PETALUMA, Calif. -- Petaluma celebrates veterans every year with the American Legion Veterans Day Parade. The event is one of the largest in the Bay Area.
"I think it's important to have a parade to honor those who served," parade organizer Joe Noriel shares. "This year we are honoring Korean War veterans."
Korean veteran Paul Lewis was chosen to be Grand Marshal for his dedication to helping fellow veterans.
"He's served in some of the most brutal situations in Korea and came back home to become a civic leader," Noriel explains.
"When I came back, on Memorial Day, I would go walk in the cemetery. I found three Petaluma high school boys that I knew really well that didn't come home, and I said they're not going to be forgotten," Lewis reveals.
Lewis's dedication to commemorating his high school friends' sacrifice resulted in a Korean War memorial being erected in the center of town.
"It was an uphill battle all the way. They wanted to put us out on some back park behind a tree, and I said 'No, not these guys. These are Petaluma guys,'" Lewis recalls. "And we got that memorial, and we got us a good looking memorial too."
"I can't tell you how appreciative the veterans were to see it especially the Korean War veterans," Noriel adds.
"And like Douglas MacArthur said soldiers just fade away," Lewis declares, "Well, we are fading away pretty fast as Korean veterans, but we're going to leave a mark about not being forgot."