The parents of Marine Corporal Keaton Coffey, who died in Afghanistan May 24, were the grand marshals for the Ross Hollywood 2012 Veterans Day Parade. It was the first time in the parade's 38-year history that family members of a veteran fallen in action have led the parade.
Grant Coffey, Marine Corporal Keaton Coffey's father, spoke outside the Ross Hollywood Chapel, to an appreciate crowd of all ages. Watch video here
"I don't have too much to say, because my son said it all," Coffey said. "He gave his life for us. And I want us to remember today, for all the vets, that while we are here, our boys, our women are fighting right now. They are there fighting for us, and those who give the ultimate sacrifice – give their lives for their country –that is the highest sacrifice that we can all hope to give.
"So, for those that are here today, thank you for being here, for honoring our men and women."
Marine Corporal Coffey, of Boring, Ore., died May 24, 2012 in Afghanistan. Corporal Coffey graduated in 2007 from Damascus Christian School, Damascus, Ore. He played sports and in his senior year, he was student body president. Coffey attended George Fox University for a year before enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps August 2008. He was completing his second deployment in Afghanistan when he was killed in action.
Mayor Sam Adams thanked the Coffeys for their courage in leading the parade and talking about their loss.
"The pain and the tragedy of that loss I can only imagine."
Mayor Adams also thanked Commissioner Nick Fish for his work to open a building dedicated to housing homeless veterans.
Portland's mayor-elect Charlie Hales also spoke, quoting Abraham Lincoln's speech at Gettysburg.
"The last full measure of devotion, that's what our veterans give us, the last full measure of devotion. And we should, and it's right that we honor that," Hales said. "But he also talked about the reciprocal responsibility that's on all of us who are not veterans, to take that sacrifice and make it mean something in our society –to make it mean a better country, a place of opportunity and hope and success for everyone, veteran and otherwise."
Hales talked about the veterans in his own family – his father, uncle and son – who were helped by policies designed to give veterans educational opportunities and jobs.
"We should redouble our efforts," he said.
The parade started near Grant High School on N.E. 40th Avenue at N.E. Hancock before heading to the Ross Hollywood Chapel on Sandy Boulevard at N.E. 48th Avenue. The Grant High School marching band provided music for the event, which also featured the Buffalo Soldiers, Moses William Chapter of the 9th and 10th Calvary, and many children, parents and military veterans.
After the parade, Tony Starlight, of Tony Starlight's Supper Club and Lounge, performed music from the World War II years, at the Hollywood Theatre, 4122 NE Sandy Boulevard, Portland.
The Ross Hollywood parade was started by Vernon E. Ross in 1974, with the aim of honoring all veterans – past and present, living and dead. Vernon served in both World War I and II.
See more photos at full size on The Skanner News Facebook page.