Today's Veterans Day parade in downtown Las Vegas will be the last for a handful of local Pearl Harbor survivors.
"We are down to four members, all with health problems. We are all in the high 80s and 90s and don't plan on any more parades after this," writes Clifton E. Dohrmann, a retired chief petty officer aviation mechanics mate who manned a .50-caliber machine gun at Kaneohe Bay Naval Air Station during the attack, and who now serves as president of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association Silver State Chapter No. 2.
In a letter to the Review-Journal, Mr. Dohrmann, 89, said the survivors' national office will close in December, 70 years after Japanese warplanes swooped down to bomb U.S. ships and military installations on Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands.
"We're all getting to the age now where participating in these events is a trying thing," Ira "Ike" Schab, 91, told the Review-Journal's Keith Rogers. Mr. Schab is a retired Navy petty officer first class and one of five other remaining active members of the local chapter. "I'm partially regretful and partially glad it's going to be over with."
Such changings of the guard, which once seemed glacial, can seem to speed by as the years pass. Many still alive today can remember when the old men given a place of honor at the head of the parade were veterans of battles in places such as Belleau Wood, in a conflict known simply as "The World War," with a special round of applause reserved for an old-timer sitting upright in the back of an old, topless Cadillac, still wearing his uniform from the Spanish-American War.
In their time, Civil War veterans swelled the ranks. And the day will doubtless come, before we know it, when the Vietnam veterans, as well, will start to thin in number.
In November 1919, Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11 as the first commemoration of what was then called Armistice Day, to honor World War veterans on the anniversary of the armistice that ended that war at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, 1918.
In 1954, after the Korean War, veterans service organizations persuaded Congress to amend the 1938 act by renaming the holiday in honor of all U.S. veterans of all foreign wars.
This year's Veterans Day parade will start at 10 a.m. at Hoover Avenue and run along Fourth Street, downtown, north to Ogden Avenue. The gathering is expected to again draw more than 40,000 spectators, making it one of the largest Veterans Day parades in the nation.
The parade is sponsored by Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1753, the city of Las Vegas and Clark County, with help from the American Legion and several veterans organizations and support groups. At 11:11 a.m., on the 11th day of the 11th month, a lone B-1B Lancer bomber will fly over the parade route.
Las Vegas thanks all who've served this country.