The Salvation Army marches on!
WWII veterans honored in Salvation Army float.
The Salvation Army recently marched in the 100th annual Portland rose festival parade, maintaining a long tradition of participating in one of only two all-floral parades in the nation.
Carrying a 12-foot banner, followed by WWI donut girls and flag bearers, Salvation Army officers and soldiers led a float along the four-mile parade route, waving to the over 500,000 people who lined the parade route. The float, decorated with help from Forte Wedding Floral Artistry, was co-sponsored by Shilo Inns and Suites Hotels and showcased the nation’s military and veterans. Showing their appreciation for the heroes riding on the float, the crowd greeted them with cheering and standing ovations.
The riders were the WWII 11th Airborne Division paratroopers, heroes of the Los Banos rescue in the Philippines. As the enemy was being defeated in Manila and retreating before the Allied advance, they began killing all POW’s and prisoners in their prison camps. In an attempt to save the 2,147 prisoners at the Los Banos prison camp, the 11th Airborne was ordered to rescue them. On February 23, 1945 the paratroopers landed 30 miles behind enemy lines in a surprise attack that liberated the prison camp with no loss of American military or civilians.
The civilians were Allied businessmen, nuns, priests, missionaries, nurses, orphans and schoolchildren who were captured by the Japanese in 1942. They had been praying for over three years to be rescued, and when they saw the paratroopers gliding down from the sky, the prisoners said they “looked like Angels coming down from heaven to rescue them.” That is how the 11th Airborne gained its nickname “The Angels.” These heroes, all in their 80’s, proudly wearing their uniforms and Angels insignia, waved and smiled back as the crowd cheered and applauded.
After the parade, the WWI donut girls took part in the Rose Festival Centennial Ball, handing out samples of Salvation Army donuts and telling the story of the Sallie Anns who risked their lives to serve the war-weary troops during WWI. The donut girls received a lot of attention from older veterans who reminisced about their own stint in the military and how a kind Sallie Ann offered them coffee and donuts at no cost.
The proud tradition of the Portland Rose Festival marched on and The Salvation Army marched with it, honoring our veterans, bringing the Sallie Anns to life, and telling the story of The Salvation Army to many who had never heard it before.