The History of the Veterans Day Parade
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.” Vernon was an avid supporter and member of the Hollywood District and the Hollywood Boosters. Ross Hollywood later donated that property along with the flag pole to the city of Portland. Ross Hollywood Chapel still tends to the flag pole and provides routine maintenance to the light and replaces the flag flown proudly there once a year.
On November 11, 1983 right before the Veterans Parade came into view from the flag pole Vernon E. Ross collapsed, standing at the base of the very memorial he had built. He had suffered a heart attack and later that night he died at Emanuel Hospital.
His son Howard C. Ross said about his father’s involvement with veterans’ activities, “It was his life.” He also stated, “With all those things added together and the excitement of the parade and his father’s failing health, that is what contributed to the attack.”
Because of Vernon’s dedication to veterans and the circumstances surrounding his death. Ross Hollywood Funeral Chapel has continued his tradition of honoring veterans and hosting the Veterans Day Parade every year on Veterans Day in November. It is something we must carry on in his honor as well as in honor of all veterans.
The Parade starts at 9:30 am at 40th and Sandy Boulevard and travels down Sandy, ending at Sandy & 48th in front of Ross Hollywood Chapel, which is the site of the Veterans Memorial Flag pole.
At the conclusion of the Parade there is a Flag raising ceremony along with comments from dignitaries, music from local High School bands, Dove release and a military flyover from the Oregon Air National Guard 142nd Fighter Wing.
Many groups and organizations from in and around Portland participate in the Parade, such as the Royal Rosarians, local High School marching bands, military groups, motorcycle groups, bagpiper marching bands, senior living groups and various local dignitaries, such as the Mayor, congresspersons, councilpersons and sometimes the Oregon Governor when their schedule allows.
We are very proud of the tradition that Vernon E. Ross began so many years ago and that is why we continue to recognize and honor all veterans with this parade. Come join us this year and every year .Veterans Day Is Every Day.