The City of Perris remembered the 100th anniversary since the end of World War I in its annual Veterans Day Parade, which included marching bands, military units, floats and a flyover of historic military aircraft.
Retired Navy Capt. Quinn Hawley was honored as the parade’s Grand Marshal. Hawley, who has presided over many Memorial Day ceremonies and is active in several Perris civic organizations, lauded America’s men and women in uniform, saying they have contributed lifetimes of service to the country and communities.
“Veterans are all over the Perris community and they are doing great things,” Hawley said. “So many came back and their service to community began after their service in the military. They’ve served country and community—their sense of duty lasts a lifetime.”
Perris’ ties to the military are long-standing and deep. March Field (later March Air Force Base and now March Air Reserve Base) opened in 1917 and pilots, crew members and other personnel have served in every U.S. war since then.
The Perris Valley Cemetery is the final resting place for more than 900 soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen and woman—included 13 Civil War veterans. Perris marked its first formal remembrance of fallen and living veterans in 1891, when a group of Civil War soldiers marched through Downtown.
After World War I, American Gen. John Pershing established the Military Order of the World Wars as a way for veterans to instruct youth about “principles of democracy, the Constitution and Bill of Rights, and civic responsibilities associated with preserving American rights and freedoms.” The groups supports JROTC and ROTC programs and organizations like the Boy Scouts.
Hawley said the commitment to liberty of veterans living and dead should never be forgotten.
“We are who we are because of the sacrifices of so many,” he said.
Remembering family, celebrating service
Perris Mayor Michael Vargas, Mayor Pro-Tem Malcolm Corona, City Councilman David Starr Rabb, City Councilwoman Rita Rogers and City Clerk Nancy Salazar attended the Veterans Day remembrance. Vargas recalled his dad, Army. Sgt. Joe Vargas, who fought in World War II and Korea.
“All of our freedoms come with a price, and veterans have paid that price,” Vargas said. “We have a lot of veterans buried in Perris and a lot more alive in our City. It is a privilege to recognize and honor them.”
Salazar’s son, Joseph, a Navy corpsman who deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and now works as a nurse in Southern California, attended the parade, along with Salazar’s husband, Cesar, and daughter, Khloe, 7.
“Words cannot describe how proud I am of Joseph,” she said. “I am grateful to all veterans who give up their lives for our freedom. They should be remembered not only on one day a year, but every day.”
Councilman Rabb, who served as Navy Gunner’s Mate in the Global War on Terror, called the City’s parade “a great event” that takes on even more significance as this year marks 100 years since the end of World War I, known at the time as “the war to end all wars.”
“It’s important to remember our veterans and the sacrifices they’ve given,” he said.
Corona commended the high-school marching bands, drill and rifle teams that gave the parade a military feel.
“They did a fantastic job,” he said. “It is so important to honor veterans who have served and sacrificed.”
Rogers brought her grandson, Jordan, 7, to the Veterans Day remembrance. It’s important to teach future generations about what veterans have given America—and the price they’ve paid.
“It’s always wonderful to come together to honor our veterans who have put their lives on the line,” Rogers said. “Our whole community rallies around the Veterans Day parade because they recognize the need to honor the men and women who have served our country.”
Following the parade, the City presented trophies to various groups and individuals in a variety of categories. The Perris High School Color Guard took the grand prize, presented by Mayor Vargas.