The 21st Annual Veterans Day Parade marched through the heart of downtown Palm Springs. Hundreds gathered to wave American flags and say 'thanks' to veterans in Saturday's parade down Palm Canyon. Congressman Raul Ruiz, (D) 36th district, showed support for two local veterans by giving them his ride for the route.
"Its the welcome home we never had," said U.S. Army veteran Don Simpson who lives in Hemet. Simpson served during the Vietnam War. "When I came back, you know, you didn't have any fanfare or anything. In fact, you were kind of looked down upon."
Another Vietnam veteran tried to forget. "Its an experience that we spend the rest of our life trying to put behind us, for most of us. Its not something I like to relive but I do all the time," said Ronnie Imel of the San Jacinto area. Imel also served in the United States Army.
"The experience you have you wouldn't trade it, but then I don't know if you'd do it again," said Simpson. "The way I move forward is helping other veterans. I have a foundation called 'Veterans Paying it Forward' and the help I give other veterans is kind of my therapy," said Imel.
That drive brought linked Simpson and Imel with Congressman Ruiz. "Ronnie Imel, who is a veterans' advocate, helped me receive a Silver Star that Congressman Ruiz gave me in July. 50 years after the fact," explained Simpson. The Silver Star is the nation's third highest award for valor in combat.
"Both of them have helped me, have been my mentors and advised me. Here in our district serving other veterans, they both deserve such recognition," said Congressman Ruiz.
"It gives them a day they can hold their heads up high and be proud of what they did," said Imel.
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