Carisa Cegavske

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November 12, 2013
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Native Americans lead 2013 Roseburg Veterans Day Parade (gallery)

Roseburg resident Phyllis Stroble said she felt pretty good about her new hometown while watching the Veterans Day Parade in downtown Roseburg.

Stroble, who recently moved to Roseburg from Lodi, Calif., said the crowd’s enthusiasm was a welcome change.

“I’m very patriotic. I didn’t see much patriotism in California. I love this,” said Stroble, who said her father is a World War II veteran and her brother served in Vietnam.

Douglas County residents packed Southeast Jackson Street’s sidewalks to watch Monday’s parade.

Native American veterans were honored as grand marshals this year. The parade’s first float featured Native American drumming. Another float paid tribute to Navajo code talkers, Native Americans who created an unbreakable radio code during World War II by relaying messages in their native language.

The parade was led by three Native Americans bearing eagle staffs — Cow Creek Umpqua Tribe elder Robert Van Norman, Alaska Tlingit elder Wayne Chulik and Canadian Blackfoot Patty Smiling Feather.

Chulik, who lives in McMinnville, said the parade was a good tribute, but that people could do a better job honoring veterans the rest of the year.

“I see too many veterans out there who are homeless,” Chulik said shortly before the parade. He said that on his drive to the parade he met a young veteran washing windshields at a rest stop to earn money.

“He did two terms in Iraq. Why is he out washing windows at a rest stop?” asked Chulik, a U.S. Army veteran who served during the 1970s.

Smiling Feather, a Canadian Blackfoot and Eastern Band Cherokee who lives in Roseburg, is active in the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde based west of Salem.

Smiling Feather, who served as a clerk in the Air Force from 1969 to 1972, said the feathers on her staff represented Native American women who had fought, and not just in the military.

“This staff is for all veteran women, for any woman, who has fought a war — be it inside the home or outside in the military. Most of these honor feathers are from women and their children or families who have been abused, who have had to fight that war at home, the worst war of all,” she said.

The parade featured several color guards, including the Grand Ronde color guard and the Roseburg chapter of the Sea Cadets, who are down to seven members and hoped to recruit more by appearing in the parade, according to Roseburg High School freshman Ben Swanson, 14.

Cow Creek Umpqua Tribe members rode in a trolley, while Umpqua Flatheads Car Club members drove classic cars. Other participants included the Douglas County Mounted Posse on horseback and motorcyclists from Christian Motorcyclists of America and the Patriot Guard.

Patriot Guard member Jim Waggoner of Roseburg said he was riding to let veterans know how important they are.

“Veterans are very important to the public, whether they are to the government or not. This is all to honor the veterans. We want them to know we honor them, we love them and we really appreciate what they do, and we know if it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t be here,” Waggoner said.

Watching the parade from a wheelchair, S. Tony Zarbano of Roseburg said he felt “very much” honored by the festivities. Zarbano, 85, served as a U.S. Navy machinist’s mate on the destroyer USS Gearing in the Pacific theater during World War II and was an Army sergeant during the Korean War.

“I’m just surprised how many people came out to see” the parade, he said.

Roseburg Mayor Larry Rich was also impressed with attendance.

“This is the biggest turnout I’ve ever seen. I just think more and more people are supporting veterans,” Rich said.

Some of the parade’s younger audience members and marchers were also enthusiastic.

Josh Ranger, 8, a third-grader at Eastwood Elementary School in Roseburg was decked out in oversized fatigues for the event. He said his favorite part of the parade was the Roseburg High School Marching Ensemble and that he was glad to cheer for people like his father, an Air Force veteran.

“The veterans, they saved us and America,” Ranger said.

William Ferch, 13, a homeschool student whose grandfather served as a U.S. Marine in Korea, was succinct in his appraisal of the parade.

“I think it’s pretty neat,” he said.

Saxophonist Addison Alford, 15, was happy to perform with the Marshfield High School marching band from Coos Bay. Alford, a sophomore, said he likes Veterans Day.

“I think it’s just great. It really brings us all together. It’s one of those holidays that really unites us. We remember what it’s all about. It’s about praising those who serve this nation,” Alford said.

• You can reach reporter Carisa Cegavske at 541-957-4213 or

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The News-Review Updated Nov 12, 2013 02:04PM Published Nov 14, 2013 01:49PM Copyright 2013 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.