PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y. -- Memorial Day is one of the biggest days of the year on the Pleasantville calendar.
The village will hold its annual Memorial Day Parade starting at Bedford Road School at 10 a.m. Bert Ruiz, author of "Pleasantville: Images of America," and commander of American Legion Post 77 helps lead the parade every year.
Ruiz said in the early years, when Pleasantville was the jewel of Mount Pleasant, the parade would attract more than 3,000 people. Though changing times have led to a decrease in attendance, the village still comes out for the parade.
"It's still an honor to march in," Ruiz, a Vietnam War veteran said.
American Legion Post 77 is one of the oldest American Legions in the country. Ruiz is turning over the keys next year to Scott Elliot, a West Point graduate who served in Iraq. Elliot will be the keynote speaker at this year's ceremony.
Many organizations march in Pleasantville's parade, which begins at Bedford Road School because it's the location of the village's World War I memorial.
"People come because they had a grandfather who served," Ruiz said. "Or maybe they had a brother that served in Vietnam. These families are touched and they come every year. It's great, it's the spirit of America. I love Memorial Day."
Ruiz said having served two tours in Vietnam, he knows what freedom means.
"I fought for it," Ruiz said. "These people paid the ultimate sacrifice and did not come home."
Memorial Day for Ruiz typically begins at 8 a.m., as he joins the Honor Guard in visiting cemeteries in Pleasantville. Ruiz was recently part of a project to put American flags up throughout Bedford Road in Pleasantville.