By IAN HILL
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
BOARDMAN -- William Roessler had tears in his eyes, Gary Borman got chills down his spine, and Chuck Stephan wished he was 50 years younger.
A patriotic parade can have that effect on people.
"I think we're all in the spirit," Thomas Rudnicki said after participating in "The Valley's Tribute to American Heroes: A Red, White, and Blue Parade."
More than 130 groups marched Saturday morning to honor American veterans as well as the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Vindicator trucks, decorated with red, white and blue paper stars addressed to the families of those killed as a result of the attacks were among the vehicles in the parade.
The stars were created by schoolchildren throughout the Mahoning Valley.
The parade was presented by The Vindicator and WFMJ-TV 21 and sponsored by K-105, Y-103, Hot 101 and The DeBartolo Corp.
Several thousand people lined Market Street to watch.
Enthusiasm: Rudnicki, of Catholic War Veterans St. Stan Post 1222 in Youngstown, described the enthusiasm of the crowd as terrific. Roessler, commander of American Legion Lake Post 737 in Lake Milton, said the tears came as he passed the cheering crowds.
"We were really proud," said Borman, chief of Beaver Township Fire and Rescue Squad. "It made us feel really good."
Paul Sovik of the Tri-State Marine League in Girard described the people at the parade as "one of the most appreciative crowds I've seen."
"It's refreshing to see that today, with everything that's going on," said Capt. Kelly T. Warren of the 910th Airlift Wing at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station in Vienna.
Stephan said the cheers made him wish he was 50 years younger so he could fight in the conflict in Afghanistan. He and Paul Malone were riding in a truck for the Mahoning Valley Korean War Veterans Chapter 137 and the VFW Post 93, both of Youngstown.
"They're really patriotic," Malone said of the crowds, adding that he feels the Sept. 11 attacks "just pulled the nation together."
Alex Sepesy of the Tri-State Marine League said he feels the enthusiasm showed that all Americans are united in the efforts to end terrorism.
"We're all comrades in arms," he said.
Cpl. Derick Young, a Marine based in Vienna, added that although he also appreciated the cheers and patriotism, "I wish it would have been like this before [Sept. 11]."
Firefighters: Youngstown Fire Chief John O'Neill, who rode in a city firetruck during the parade, also said he has noticed a change in the attitude of Americans.
"I think people have a different feeling about firefighters now," O'Neill said.
Several parade participants noted that they were happy to be included in the event. Marine Gunnery Sgt. Don Humphreys, stationed in Vienna, said he was proud to have the opportunity to march in the parade.
"Especially on Veterans Day weekend, it's fitting," said Commander Bob Hughes of the 9th District of the American Legion, which includes northeast Ohio. "It's been a long time since we've had a Veterans Day parade."
Rudnicki added that by participating in the parade, his group was showing support for both veterans and American troops in Afghanistan.
"We want to tell the people that we appreciate how much these people are doing for us today," he said. "This is a great country."
The parade was broadcast live on WFMJ-TV. It will be re-broadcast at 11:30 tonight.
All proceeds from advertising on the broadcast will be donated to the New York City Police and Firefighters Widows' and Children's Fund.