WWII Vet and Liberator named grand marshal
In 1974, a gallon of gas cost 55 cents. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the year at 616. The Oregon Ducks football team had two uniforms – one for home and one for away games. And military veterans of the Vietnam War continued to return home.
It was also the year that Vernon E. Ross, founder of the Ross Hollywood Chapel, decided to do something to honor all veterans. So, he started a parade. And 40 years later, it’s going as strong as ever.
World War II veteran and Oregon native Brig. Gen. James B. Thayer of Lake Oswego will lead the 2014 parade on November 11. Thayer, 92, enlisted in the U.S. Army following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. During direct combat he earned both the Bronze and Silver Star awards. In 1945, his anti-tank mine platoon helped liberate the Gunskirden Lager concentration camp in Austria, rescuing more than 15,000 Hungarian-Jewish refugees.
“We are honored to have Brig. Gen. Thayer as our grand marshal. His achievements and service symbolize what all citizen soldiers do for our country. I hope everyone comes to the parade to honor them and their families,” said Angela McKenzie-Tucker, manager of parade sponsor Ross-Hollywood Chapel.
Other parade participants will include the USO Northwest PDX Center, The Beat Goes On and the Grant High School marching bands, women of Unit 70 Navy WAVE veterans (aged 66 to 92) and the Military Vehicle Collectors club, which will showcase a 1942 military tank. In addition, the horse-mounted Buffalo Soldiers Moses William Chapter of the 9th and 10th Calvary, JOIN, with a contingency of homeless veterans, veterans’ organizations, veterans’ motorcycle groups and Boy and Girl Scout troops will march.
The Veterans Day National Committee has selected the Portland parade as an official regional site for Veterans Day observances.
The parade begins at 9:45 a.m., November 11 at Northeast 40 Avenue and Northeast Hancock Street and travels east on Northeast Sandy Boulevard to Northeast 48 Avenue, where a memorial flag raising ceremony will be held. Everyone is welcome to attend and can register to march in the parade at veteransdaypdx.org.
Veterans Resources available at Dignity Row
Several veterans’ assistance organizations will have informational tables in front of the Ross Hollywood Chapel on Northeast Thompson Street. Included will be the American Diabetes Association, the Historical Outreach Foundation and VFW Post 1325. Veterans are encouraged to stop by with their questions or pick up literature that may be of benefit to them.
About the Ross Hollywood Veterans Day Parade
Vernon E. Ross, then owner of the Ross Hollywood Funeral Chapel, founded the parade to honor all veterans – past and present, living and dead – in 1974. Vernon, a veteran of both World War I and World War II, wanted to do something to honor veterans of all wars, because “patriotism has dropped to the lowest level ever.” Just prior to the parade’s start on November 11, 1983, Vernon Ross collapsed while standing at the base of the flagpole Veterans Memorial he’d created. He died later that evening after suffering a heart attack. Ross Hollywood continues Vernon Ross’ dedication to veterans by sponsoring the annual parade in Portland’s Hollywood District each November.
About Ross Hollywood Chapel
Originally founded in 1946, Ross Hollywood Chapel has been a part of the Hollywood district for more than 50 years. It is part of the Dignity Memorial national network of funeral, cremation and cemetery service providers and committed to exceeding expectations and delivering a standard of service that is 100 percent guaranteed. It is located at 4733 N.E. Thompson St.