CENTER CITY (WPVI) --People lined up early in Center City on Sunday to pay tribute to Philadelphia-area veterans.
The first annual Philadelphia Veterans Day Parade aired live Sunday afternoon on 6abc.
The parade not only honored members of all branches of the military ahead of Veterans Day, which falls on Wednesday.
It also marked the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII, the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, and the 25th anniversary of Operation Desert Storm.
Almost 200 organizations marched through Center City, including marching bands, youth groups, businesses - and, of course, military units.
Participants said it was about time.
"This should have been done years ago," said Robert Dager of Sellersville, Pa. "They have parades for everything else. This is more important than anything else: the veterans."
"For so long a time there was no support for a lot of the guys who came back," said Navy veteran John Klima. "So if we can make a difference, we want to do it."
Kim Hrynko from Yardley, Pa. is a USO volunteer and was handing out flags. Her son is serving in Afghanistan.
"He's been there since June and he'll be there 9 months," she said. "So we're here to support all the veterans."
The parade also included duck boats filled with veterans. One of those vets was Carl Bailey.
"This is one of the first steps that we can see with things like this that actually begin to make society understand the military for this country," Bailey told Action News. "And not only that, but their families too."
Organizers spent the past week going over last-minute details for this first-of-its-kind celebration in the City of Brotherly Love.
"Philadelphia has not had a Veterans Day parade, really, ever," said Media, Pa. Mayor Bob McMahon. "So this is really exciting for us."
The mile-long parade route started at Broad and Walnut Streets, proceeded north to Philadelphia City Hall then east on Market Street.
The parade ended where it all began for our nation: on Independence Mall.
"Having it in Center City, where the American government was formed... Philadelphia is where a veterans' parade really belongs more than anywhere else," said McMahon.