PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — As the nation honored its veterans Friday, Peoria residents took to the street to salute those who’ve served.

Peoria’s American Legion Post #2 coordinated the city’s annual Veterans Day parade in the downtown area.

Those with the organization said there were nearly 40 participating groups walking and driving the route flashing smiles and waves, throwing candy and playing music all while honoring veterans.

“In Peoria they love veterans,” Gary Hall, service officer with Peoria’s American Legion Post #2, said. “I would give it [the parade] an A++.”

Hall said the organization has coordinated the parade for more than half a century. He said he wants the public to recognize veterans heroism.

“All veterans should be respected from the Army, the Navy, the Marines, the Air Force, the Coast Guard.”

He also said he wanted to highlight the importance of the MIA/POW flag.

“It’s important to me that everybody never forgets not just the POW/MIA’s from Vietnam, not just the POWs from Korea, World War 2, World War 1,” Hall said. “As long as that flag is flying they never forget.

Tom Ibler, who served in the Vietnam War, came out to see the parade. He said he still gets emotional thinking about his time in the service.

“It’s difficult, it’s difficult for me,” Ibler said. “We had several fatalities and several of my men disappeared, never saw them again, they were wounded that badly.”

Despite the hard memories, he said he was pleased with the parade.

“The effort that the participants put in was excellent, it’s reassuring in a way to see that there are some people out there that still respect us,” Ibler said.

But he said he was let down by the attendance.

“One thing I was disappointed with was the lack of turnout by the people, there should be more support,” Ibler said. “Four years ago, [at the] veterans parade you couldn’t find a place to park downtown.”

He said he hopes more people will come out in the coming years to show support for those who came before.