By Mike Terry, Sun Contributing Writer
Rogelio Ramirez wasn’t sure he wanted to attend this year’s Veteran’s Parade in San Fernando.
The Sylmar resident had been coming here every year since 2009 to honor his son Rogelio, 21, a Marine Corps Lance Corporal who was killed while saving two fellow Marines in Iraq. But this year, emotionally, he didn’t think he could be part of it.
It was his 10-year-old daughter, Jasmine, who changed his mind.
“Her birthday is Nov. 10,” Ramirez said. “And she wanted to honor her brother. She said we had to go. She even turned down a chance to go to Knott’s Berry Farm. It’s nice she’s learning to honor her brother and other fallen heroes.
“The parade means a lot to me, because it is a way to remember not only the fallen heroes, but also the veterans that are alive. They deserve our respect, and this is a way to show our appreciation for their sacrifice.”
The event, now in its 11th year, also has a special meaning to Army veteran Lee Cardoza, 91, who served Guam and Okinawa, Japan during World War II.
“I’ve been in it every year. And I love being here. There are very few veterans my age who are left,” said Cardoza, who lives in Mission Hills. “And I’m going to be here every year I can.”
The parade took place on the streets of Mission Hills before hundreds of cheering, flag-waving spectators on Tuesday, Nov. 11, and featured more than 100 veterans and veterans groups, marching bands from Arleta, Beverly Hills, San Fernando, Chatsworth and other high schools, ROTC units and drill teams, plus surviving family members of deceased veterans. There was also a flyover by WWII era Condors airplanes.
This year’s Grand Marshal was retired Marine Corps Capt. Dale Adam Dye, 70, a North Hills resident who served 21 years and is also a successful novelist, screenwriter, actor and director.
“I’ve known about the parade forever as an observer,” Dye said. “This year they called me and asked me to be Grand Marshal. What a great honor, that your community thinks of you like that.”
Alfred Flores Jr., deceased son of parade organizer Fred Flores, is credited with the idea of having a parade in the Northeast San Fernando Valley, an area that is home to thousands of veterans and their families.
Fred Flores recalled that he and Alfred, then age 10, were going a Veterans parade in Long Beach when the son asked, “Why not have one here so we don’t have to get up so early and travel to be in a parade that should be in our backyard?”
“And every year it gets bigger,” Flores said.