WASHINGTON – A smattering of America's World War II veterans showed their spunk again Monday, marching in a Memorial Day (search) parade with high school and military bands, floats and veterans of other conflicts who came to honor them.
It was a pulsating sequel to Saturday's solemn dedication of a new bronze and granite memorial to the thinning ranks of World War II veterans.
While some veterans were in buses, others marched proudly with veterans organizations.
Standing in a light drizzle and waiting to march, Harry Lynd, of Montgomeryville, Pa., said it was important to be in the parade.
"We've got to," said the 80-year-old Army Air Corps veteran who was with a Pennsylvania chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (search). "How much longer do I have."
Also marching was Joseph Cicippio, who was taken hostage when Iranian militants seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979.
Marching with a Pennsylvania drum and bugle corps, Cicippio, 73, said, "I feel like a kid of 15. This is my dream."
Cicippio said he made it through his more than five years in captivity by humming the tunes and practicing in his mind the drills of his musical unit, Reilly Raiders.
Native Americans from the Nez Perce Tribe (search) and the Mohawk Reserve (search) led the parade. They were followed by dozens of motorcycle riders who participated in the weekend's Rolling Thunder (search) salute to veterans.
Some World War II veterans marched with their own organizations, including U.S. Submarine Veterans WWII, World War II medical personnel and Iwo Jima Veterans.
Veterans units came from all 50 states and some U.S. allies in the war against Japan and Germany. They marched up Independence Avenue, ending a short distance from the World War II Memorial.
Thousands of spectators, from teenagers to grandparents, applauded as the marchers went by.
Bill Ashley, of Bloomington, Ind., stepped along loudly with an organization that brings 50 American flags to ceremonial events and parades.
Ashley, 77, enlisted in the Marines at age 16, after lying about his age, he said.
Serving in the Pacific where he loaded ordnance onto torpedo bombers, Ashley said he felt sad that many surviving veterans of World War II were physically unable to march.
"I'm glad I can still get around," said Ashley, who lifts weights every other day and walks two miles a day.
He said he attended Saturday's dedication of the memorial and thought to himself, "Fellows they finally made it — you've got a memorial."