EDMONDS — As a decorated Army veteran, Phil Sacks was used to marching in a Fourth of July parade with thousands of spectators.
The Edmonds parade that started in 1907 was canceled this year, but Sacks, 90, still showed up for duty.
His neighbor, Art Jones, organized a parade in his honor around the block on Saturday morning.
Sacks, a Purple Heart recipient, led the way in his combat infantry jacket. Jones, wearing blue jeans, carried a flag and blared music from a Bose Bluetooth speaker.
“We played John Philip Sousa as if it were the Boston Pops,” said Jones, 77.
He recruited two friends in star-spangled clothing to tag along through the otherwise quiet sidestreets of Edmonds.
Jones and Sacks were bummed about the parade’s cancellation, a massive event where some 20,000 line the route.
“We always cheer him on,” Jones said.
Their impromptu parade gained notice.
“There were some older ladies on a bench and when we walked by they stood and saluted him,” Jones said. “He thought that was great.”
Younger people wanted to join the parade, he said, but it was over after four blocks. Sacks said it was enough.
Sacks was in the infantry when wounded in 1951 in the Korean War.
“I was in a foxhole,” he said. “And I was in close combat with North Koreans. We were trying to take a hill and they didn’t want to give it up. We had some artillery coming in. I got shrapnel in my back.”
That’s not the only pain he lives with.
“One of the guys near me, he was between me and the round that came in and blew him on top of me, blew his leg off, and he died,” Sacks said, his voice choking.
If you really want to thank him for his service, don’t set off fireworks.
“Fireworks drive me up a wall,” Sacks said. “Veterans in my position who have gone through combat and have PTSD get very nervous when you hear loud noises and you don’t know where they’re coming from.”