It was a glorious morning Monday for the annual Ocean County Veteran’s Day Parade in downtown Toms River which followed the same route as the better-known Halloween Parade just a couple of weeks earlier.

Of course the crowd is quite a bit smaller even though yesterday’s parade has much more meaning than the one featuring costumed characters and decorated floats.  Thanks to a partnership with the Toms River Regional Schools some 750 elementary students were in attendance and the parade did include the three high school and three intermediate school bands.

As I’ve done the past couple of years I watched the parade from the intersection of Washington and Robbins Street as it’s only a couple of hundred yards from our office building.  What always strikes me is the pure joy the veterans get from being with their fellow vets and marching or riding in front of what is a very supportive crowd.

Some can still fit in the uniform they wore decades earlier and their pride in serving their country is still evident today.   Whether they saw active duty overseas or served in times of peace they answered the call and the least we can do is show our appreciation once a year.

Ironically on the same day as the parade I went to see “Hacksaw Ridge” which is a true story that I’m sure most, including myself had never heard.  Directed by Mel Gibson it tells the story of Desmond Doss, a medic who saved 75 men during a horrific battle on Okinawa during the later stages of World War II.

What makes the story even more amazing is that Doss because of religious reasons was a conscientious objector who would not carry or use a rifle. He would win a Congressional Medal of Honor for his bravery.  We thought the movie was outstanding but a caution in that it’s very graphic and disturbing which I’m sure many veterans will tell you is what war is all about.