BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – Bakersfield’s annual Veterans Day parade was blessed with picture-perfect autumn weather.

Three days after tens of millions expressed their partisan identities in an unsettled national election marked by distinct lines of disagreement, Americans came together in cities across the nation to celebrate something almost all of them can cherish.

The service of military veterans in times of war, peace and the uncertainty in between.

Veterans of World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere were the heroes this morning.

None were more honored than Victor Killingsworth, born on this Armistice Day in 1920. Now 102 years old, the veteran of the Pacific Theater of World War II served as the Grand Marshal for Bakersfield’s Veterans Day parade Friday morning. 

“An amazing, amazing experience,” he said, “and one that I’ll never forget.”

American Legion Post 26, which served once again as parade host, made Killingsworth an honorary member shortly after the parade concluded.

What was he thinking as the crowd along 21st and 22nd Street shouted their gratitude?

Not of the shouts of praise so much – although he appreciated them all. He thought about those who didn’t come back.

“I was thinking about the fact that I represented a lot of men who didn’t come home,” he said. “And my two best high school buddies in Taft, they were both killed. So, it has a special meaning to me. I think back rather than forward.”

Post 26 also recognized Chief Rick Ibarra who has now organized 13 of these Veterans Day parades.

As much as the parade was about the soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen and coast guard who served, it was about community too. 85 entries, more than 90 minutes worth.

Families on hand to cheer on the cars, floats and marching bands no double remembering fathers, mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers who served past war efforts in some way, and are now just family memories. Young ones who may not fully grasp the concept of freedom or how it’s earned, but are learning.

Veterans Day 2022 displayed the sights and sounds, pomp and bustle of gratitude. Nothing to vote on, nothing to count. And for that, too, we can all give thanks.