'America’s Parade' coming to Los Angeles

The first “America’s Parade: L.A.” will be held on the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center campus on Veterans Day, Nov. 11. Tommy Lasorda, who served in the U.S. Army during World War II and missed the 1946 and 1947 seasons of his professional baseball career because of his service, will be the grand marshal.

America’s Parade originated in New York, and the parade organizers are expanding their commitment to veterans, servicemembers and their families by bringing this strong tradition to Los Angeles. Those interested in participating in the Los Angeles parade can sign up through Nov. 4.

New York-based United War Veterans Council is helping the Los Angeles County Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, and The American Legion, to produce this historic event.

“We are privileged to have this parade in the vicinity of our district,” said American Legion Department of California 24th District Commander Scott Wagenseller. “We’re looking forward to the participation of posts within our district, as well as Legionnaires and veterans from around the state.”

The collaborative effort from New York to Los Angeles is led by United War Veterans Council President Dan McSweeney and Los Angeles County Department of Military and Veterans Affairs Chief Deputy Stephanie Stone.

“The county of Los Angeles is proud to partner with the United War Veteran Council and The American Legion to present the first America’s Parade: L.A.,” Stone said. “This parade will honor veterans from all wars and all eras, creating a sea to shining sea of Veterans Day parades throughout our great country.”

The parade will step off just after 11 a.m. on the West L.A. VA campus parking lot 38. The 1-mile route will travel across the campus on Bonsall Avenue, passing a grandstand for attendees just beyond Wilshire Boulevard. At the end of parade parking lot 6 and 7 there will be entertainment, food and vendors, as well as a veterans resource fair.

Veterans groups participating in the parade include The American Legion; Team Red, White and Blue; Vet Hunters Project; The Mission Continues; U.S. Vets and several others. The community of Los Angeles is invited and encouraged to show support and help honor the brave men and women who have served and protected our nation.

The sole purpose of America’s Parade is to honor the service of veterans and to salute active-duty servicemembers. It is a nonpartisan, non-political event, and will not be used as a platform for any other purpose or political agendas.

America’s Parade carries on the traditions of the New York City Veterans Day Parade, which traces its roots back to the American Revolution and the War of 1812, with parades organized by veterans. The custom of celebrating veterans on the 11th day in November began in 1919 with Armistice Day marking the end of World War I. Armistice Day then became Veterans Day after World War II and continues to be a national observance honoring veterans of all eras.

The 2015 parade in New York included more than 300 marching units, 30 floats and more than 200 military vehicles with 500,000 spectators. The inaugural parade in Los Angeles will be smaller in numbers but expectations of quality and potential for growth are great. Like The American Legion, America’s Parade is approaching its 100-year anniversary in 2019 and an appropriate celebration is due.

“We are honored to contribute our longstanding expertise and experience producing New York City’s Veterans Day Parade to help unite the East and West Coasts in celebrating service and the Los Angeles veterans community,” McSweeney said.

This year’s parade will commemorate the 15th Anniversary of 9/11, with special recognition of Afghanistan, Iraq and other post-9/11 veterans, as well as first responders. It will also mark the 25th anniversary of Desert Storm.

To participate in the parade, please visit www.americasparade.org/la or email sstone@mva.lacounty.gov.