American Legion hosts Armed Forces Day parade in Ada

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ADA, Okla. (KXII) - "They gave a big sacrifice for us and I feel like we owe them," Ada Darlene Lehman said.

"They've served us now it's our turn to serve them," Event Organizer Rich Kaye said.

American Legion post 72 hosted Saturday's Armed Forces Day parade in Ada, the first one in over 30 years.

"I want to support our veterans and support Ada and having this parade," Lehman said.

Organizers say it was time bring the event back to the community.

"You know after 9/11 we kept saying we won't forget, we'll never forget," Kaye said. People have started to forget our military."

"It was needed, you know the camaraderie that this town has dissipated," Event Organizer James Kercheval said.

Kercheval says he joined the army in 2003, and was seriously injured during his first tour to Iraq.

"I lost 35% of my lung capacity and half of my right kidney," Kercheval said. [I] went back over for a second tour, got injured by a VBID blast, more chemical exposure."

Kercheval says he's now battling cancer because of those injuries.

He tells us that's why he felt the need now more than ever, to start hosting the parade again.

"These veterans need the appreciation they deserve," He said.

"In my mind they're the reason we're able to come and assemble and do things like this," Sponsor Ron Batey said.

Armed Forces Day is celebrated on the third Saturday of May, which is also Military Appreciation month.

"If I see somebody wearing a military cap, I go up to them and shake their hand, thank you for your service," Kaye said. When they start to tear up that tells me that we're not doing enough."

Kaye says he hopes young people develop a greater appreciation for veterans.

"The freedoms that we enjoy everyday to this, to do whatever that comes at a cost," He said. It's our military that paying the price so our freedoms aren't free."

"I think everybody in Ada should be out here," Lehman said. Everybody in the county should be out here, every city needs to have a parade just like this."

They hope to make this parade an annual event.

"There's a lot of support this year, but we'd love to make it bigger," Batey said.