Shaking hands with Veterans parade SundayBy Trisha Maldonado
The Sons of the American Legion (S.A.L.) will host this year’s Veterans Day parade and observance on Sunday, Nov. 11. The parade will start at 10 a.m. with the lineup at 9 a.m. on G Ave. and Fourth Street and the observance following at 11 a.m.
This date is in keeping with the observance of the 11th month, the 11th day, and the 11th hour, according to Rene Gonzalez, parade chairman.
The observance will begin after the parade at the Douglas Veterans Memorial, located at Pan American and G Ave.
This year’s theme is “Shaking Hands with Veterans.” The emphasis is to encourage the community to demonstrate their pride and gratitude to the veterans.
The grand marshal for this year’s parade is Michael P. Arias, who was born and raised in Douglas.
The former Bulldog graduated from Douglas High School in 1966 and entered the Army that same year.
Arias did his basic training at Fort Bliss, Texas, and advanced infantry training at Fort Polk, Louisiana. He then served one year of close combat during the Vietnam War with A Company 2/28th infantry, 1st Infantry Division. Arias also served with 1st Infantry Division Supply and Transportation.
He received medals and awards in Combat Infantryman Badge (Operation Manhattan in the Iron Triangle), the Purple Heart for Operation Manhattan, the Bronze Star with “V” device for valor during Operation Shenandoah II, the 1st Infantry Division Certificate of Achievement Citation, the Black Lion Extraordinaire Certificate and the Army Commendation Medal for the 1968 Tet offensive.
Arias retired from the U.S. Postal Service in 2005 after 36 years of service. He is currently living in San Tan Valley, Arizona where he works part-time at an organic farm.
He has been married to Maria Elena Martinez of Superior for over 42 years. They have four children, Theresa Jesus, Javier Miguel, Elias Diego and Pilar Elena. Arias is the son of Armando and Julia Arias of Douglas.
“I’m honored, I did not in my wildest imagination expect this,” Arias said about him being grand marshal.
There will be a flyover with F16 jets from the Air Guard 162nd Fighter Wing from Tucson and the 62nd Army Band will perform in the parade and observance.
The S.A.L. invites all to come out to the parade and to also participate in the events.
The deadline for the parade entries is Nov. 9. S.A.L. is asking for local businesses, schools, bands, organizations, clubs, and private citizens to sign up for the parade.
There will be an open house after the observance at the American Legion hall.
Contact the parade chairmen, Richard L. Arzate at (520) 249-8522 or Rene Gonzales at (520) 678-8109 for parade information and Scott Babicky at (520) 364-5171 for open house information.