Portland's only annual Veterans Day parade is extra special this year. For starters, it will be the 43rd to take place in the Hollywood District, making it one of the longest-running such parades in the country. But because Veterans Day falls on a Saturday this year, even people who normally have to work on the Nov. 11 holiday will be able to watch it.
And the grand marshals will be members of the committee working on the commissioning ceremony for the USS Portland, the new San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock that is the first naval vessel named exclusively for the city. They are expected to ride in a WWII-era DUCW amphibious vehicle, commonly known as a Duck. The ship will be commissioned here on April 21.
The parade also will honor former Army Air Force navigator Jack Cramer, one of those featured in the Pamplin Media Group's Veterans Day special section and Thursday's Portland Tribune.
According to the parade's website, it was founded in 1974 by Vernon E. Ross, proprietor of Ross Hollywood Funeral Chapel, to honor all veterans, past and present, living and deceased. Vernon was a veteran himself, having served as a medic at the Veterans Hospital in Vancouver, Washington, during World War I and as a captain in the Veterans Guard & Patrol in WWII. He also was active in many veterans organizations.
Vernon later purchased a small piece of property in front of his business and erected a flagpole with a planter to honor veterans of all wars. Remarkably, on Nov. 11, 1983, Vernon was standing at the memorial he built when he collapsed of a heart attack right before the parade came into view. He died later that night at Emanuel Hospital.
Because of Vernon's dedication to veterans and the circumstances surrounding his death, Ross Hollywood Funeral Chapel has continued hosting the Veterans Day Parade every year.
The parade starts at 9:30 a.m. at Northeast 40th and Sandy Boulevard and travels down Sandy, ending at Sandy and 48th Avenue in front of Ross Hollywood Chapel, which is the site of the Veterans Memorial flagpole. There a flag-raising ceremony is held, dignitaries deliver comments, local high school bands play music, doves are released, and the Oregon Air National Guard 142nd Fighter Wing conducts a military flyover.
Tradition parade participants from in and around Portland include the Royal Rosarians, military groups, motorcycle groups, bagpiper marching bands, senior living groups and elected officials.
For more information, visit www.veteransdaypdx.org.