First time at Veteran’s Day Parade

Update Nov. 12 8:00 a.m.: OPB has a pretty sweet slideshow of the Ross Hollywood Chapel Veterans Day Parade here.

(Eked this out in the final hours of the day. Have I mentioned that I’m NaBloPoMo-ing?)

Took Lilli to her very first parade today.

Lilli and her 'baby' Tito Eric watching the parade process down Sandy Blvd.

Lilli and her ‘baby’ Tito Eric watching the parade process down Sandy Blvd.

The annual Ross Hollywood Chapel Veterans Day Parade has been going on here since 1974. It’s the only such parade in Portland If you’re wondering why this event happens in the Hollywood neighborhood of all places in Portland, I did too. The official website shares this history:

Portland’s only Veterans Day parade started in 1974. Vernon E. Ross, proprietor of Ross Hollywood Funeral Chapel, founded this parade to honor all veterans, past and present, living and deceased.

Vernon, a veteran himself, served as a medic at the Veterans Hospital in Vancouver, Washington during World War I. In World War II, he served as a captain in the Veterans Guard & Patrol. Vernon was very active in many veteran organizations such as the American Legion Post No. 1, Forty & Eight Voiture No. 25, Portland Barracks No. 53 of the Veterans of World War I and the Last Man’s Club.

Vernon E. Ross purchased a small triangular piece of land for $19,000 in front of his Ross Hollywood Funeral Chapel and erected a flag pole with a planter. He said, “I wanted to do something to honor veterans of all wars, because ‘patriotism’ has dropped to the lowest level ever.”

As I was driving to the coffee shop today I caught some of a Think Out Loud rebroadcast about a forthcoming World War II veterans memorial. At one point the guest Lou Jaffe, who is heading up the effort and a Vietnam vet himself, spoke nostalgically as he described one of the goals for the project:

“This memorial will have a very innovative educational component, so that future generations can learn from the experiences of a generation where our nation was unified in its purpose, was singular in its goal. And what it was like when everybody shared in the sacrifice to prevail in a world war,” said Jaffe.

These days it is quite different. If politics is any indication, our country is bitterly divided. And it’s way more complicated than that, more complicated than I can address in a short blog post.

And as Jaffe works towards erecting his World War II memorial, I’d like to reiterate why my neighborhood parade was created back in 1974. As I quoted above, founder Vernon Ross said, “I wanted to do something to honor veterans of all wars, because ‘patriotism’ has dropped to the lowest level ever.” Two men fighting the same fight, 40 years apart.

My two-year old Lilli enjoyed the parade. She even got into waving at all the folks marching, driving, trotting by. Not surprising for anyone with a toddler, her favorites included the various motorcycle groups, the marching bands (“I want more drums, Mommy!”) and anything involving a siren. Among my favorites were the Patriot Pin Ups (I know, right?), the awesome dudes in the cherry red motorcycle with side car and the Beaumont Middle School Marching Band (imho, the best band in the parade, complete with tuxedo t-shirts).

Check out some of my photos here.

Seeing the different groups walk by reminded me that veterans, as with any defined group, represent diverse perspectives and backgrounds.

Thank you to all our veterans for your service and your sacrifice. And a special shout out to my family and friends who have served or continue to serve.


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