The City of Torrance, Calif., hosted it’s 53rd Annual Armed Forces Day Celebration May 18 to 20, with more than160 Edwards Airmen representing the base and the Air Force by marching in, what is called, the longest city-sponsored military parade in the country.
Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley was the grand marshall of the parade, which featured all military services and the U.S. Coast Guard.
According to the City of Torrance website, the Armed Forces Day Parade has drawn up to 100,000 spectators a year to watch as many as 8,000 parade participants march along the parade route from downtown Torrance to City Hall.
The parade is part of the Torrance Armed Forces Day Celebration, which is a three-day even every year featuring static displays and booths from units around Southern California.
Soldiers from Fort Irwin, Calif., brought M-1 Abrams tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles. The Navy brought a trailer dive tank where Navy divers swam around and waved to onlookers, sometimes playing Tic-Tac-Toe through the glass with children.
In all, more than 60 entries participated in the long-time event.
The tradition began in 1960; Torrance Mayor Al Isen, with the help of the Torrance Chamber of Commerce, organized the first parade as a tribute to friends and fellow Americans who had served in the Armed Forces. The parade has grown over the years to become one of America’s largest demonstrations of patriotism.
In its early history, the celebration began on a Friday evening with a display of military exhibits coupled with a large fireworks show behind City Hall. On Saturday, a daylong display of military hardware and parade floats, all open for public viewing, follows the parade, which has a history of recognizing military war heroes, such as U.S. General Omar Bradley. A Five Star General of the Army, Omar N. Bradley served as the Honorary Grand Marshal in 1969, and was, at the time, the highest-ranking serviceman in the nation.