Although more than 20,000 people participated in this year's Veterans Day parade, there were many disabled veterans who could not take part in the celebration., the philanthropic arm of Google, decided to bring the fanfare to them. As part of Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities, set up 360 degree cameras on various floats throughout the parade to capture the event in virtual reality.

"And then what we're going to do is actually broadcast that out to the veterans administration hospitals around the country so veterans can participate using Google Cardboard in virtual reality," said Erika Johansson,'s product marketing manager.

Johansson said Google Cardboard is one of the cheapest options when it comes to virtual reality viewers. It costs about $25 (£16.40) and is made out of cardboard and lenses. Cynthia Ventura, whose two sons served in the Marines, one who died four years ago in service and another who suffered a spinal-cord injury but hasn't been discharged yet, said only good can stem from's efforts.

"He's never going to walk again unless technology catches up with the injury, which I'm always hopeful for," she said.

"But anything that's out there that can be offered to people with disabilities, it's a wonderful thing."

At St Albans Veterans Hospital in Queens on Thursday (12 November), veterans in wheelchairs checked out the 360 degree video on Google Cardboard. Alex Kowalski, a 91-year-old US Navy veteran who served in World War Two and the Korean War said the experience was exactly like being at the parade.

"Being confined to a wheelchair, you didn't think about sitting down, you thought you were marching along with the group," he said.

"And everybody in the parade was looking at us waving, so we were there. I enjoyed it. It was better than what I expected. I thought it was going to be like the 3D movies and stuff like that, but as I said, it's actually 360 degrees. It was good, good show."

Cornell Murphy, who was a soldier in the US Army and was stationed with the 2nd Infantry Division on the 38th parallel during the Korean War, said he had never attended a Veterans Day parade and could feel the excitement of the crowd after viewing the footage.

"I've never seen that upfront before and that was really, really good," he said.

"That felt really, really rewarding. It felt like you were really, really there, making you feel like you want to wave back."

Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities has a $20m grant portfolio that's going to assistive technology for people with disabilities. is also giving a grant to an organisation called AmericaMakes, which gives training to veterans on 21st century digital skills aimed at creating new technologies and innovation.