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Posted by on Jan 3, 2013 in Arts & Entertainment, Media, Places, Society, War | 5 comments

Two Military ‘Firsts’ Represented at the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade (Updated)


Fiesta Parades Float has graciously provided an artist’s rendering of the “Canines with Courage” float (above) discussed in this article.

Also added, at the end of the article, is a description of the float along with a link to how you can donate to the United States Military Working Dog Teams National Monument.


Original Post:

This New Year’s Tournament of Roses® Parade was not only very beautiful, as usual, but also very special to me, as I am sure it was to millions of patriotic Americans.

First — and for the first time in the history of the Parade — it included a float officially entered by the Department of Defense. The float, named “Freedom Is Not Free,” is a representation of the Korean War Veterans Memorial in our nation’s capital (below) and is part of the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Korean War.

According to the Pasadena Tournament of Roses®:

While decidedly less whimsical than most other entrants, our float commemorates America’s intervention on the Korean peninsula. In 1950 at the start of the war, Korea was a distant place unknown to most Americans; thus the phrase inscribed on the Korean War Memorial, “They Went to a Place They Didn’t Know to Defend a People They had Never Met.” By 1953, many more Americans were aware of the Republic of Korea and the plight of the Korean people.

This float is significant to the Department of Defense because the Korean War marked the United States’ and United Nations’ blunt refusal to accept the Communist invasion of South Korea. It was the first “hot” war of the Cold War and the first real test of the fledgling United Nation’s resolve demonstrating to the world and to the Communist bloc that bold, naked aggression would not be tolerated. It also marked the first war in which the US military’s units were fully desegregated.

Our float and our float riders reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of the units who fought so bravely in the Korean War. The theme is also very emotionally charged for Korean War Veteran riders on the float; as it represents their sacrifices and those of their comrades, some of whom made the ultimate sacrifice and never returned home.

For more information on the Department of Defense’s Korean War Commemoration Committee and its activities honoring those who fought in the so-called “Forgotten War,” please go here.

Another “first” represented in the Parade is the fact that for the first time in our nation’s history an animal, a dog, a ‘four-legged warrior’ is being honored with a national monument.

Approved by Congress, signed into law by President Bush in 2008 and later amended by President Obama to authorize the John Burnam Foundation to build and maintain the monument, the U.S. Working Dog Teams National Monument pays tribute to dogs that served in combat and is slated for completion at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas, in October of this year.

Lackland was selected because it has been the home of the 341st Training Squadron responsible for training Military Working Dog Teams of the Military Services since 1958 and is now also the home of the new Department of Defense Military Working Dog (MWD) Veterinary Service Hospital.

Americans got to admire an exact floral replica of the monument at the 2013 Tournament of Roses® Parade as a float named “Canines with Courage” passed by the cameras and the viewing stands.

In the words of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses®, “’Canines with Courage’ portrays four-footed heroes who go above and beyond to serve and defend our country and our freedom.”

According to the LA Times:

The monument, regal bronze statues of a Doberman pinscher, German shepherd, Labrador retriever and Belgian Malinois leading a dog handler on patrol, cost about $1.2 million. It was funded solely by grants and donations led by sponsors Natural Balance, Petco and Maddie’s Fund.

Read more background about this memorial here and more about the float here.

An added treat during the passing of the “Canines with Courage” float was the touching surprise reunion of one of the servicemembers riding on the float, Sgt. First Class Eric Pazz, with his 4-year-old son, Eric Jr. and wife. Sgt. Pazz’s wife, Miriam Pazz, had won a contest to attend the parade but did not know her husband –a highly decorated soldier serving in Afghanistan — would be riding on one of the floats.

Pazz jumped off the float, walked to his surprised son and wife, embraced them, the crowd rose to its feet, spectators cheered and Sgt. Pazz and family rode together on “Canines with Courage” the rest of the parade.

What a fitting gift for this military family.


Dick Van Patten’s Natural Balance Pet Foods salutes and gives recognition to the brave canine members of America’s armed forces that so gallantly serve our nation with this patriotic salute honoring their loyal service and heroism. Leading the float are military working dog teams and handlers. A flora replica of the bronze and marble United States Military Working Dog Teams National Monument, to be dedicated in late 2013 at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, is prominently displayed beneath lush orchid laced cherry trees. Flowing floral flags of America’s armed-service branches; Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air force and Coast Guard are proudly displayed as a background to the monument. Featured on the monument are (left to right) the Doberman Pinscher, German Shepherd, Labrador Retriever and Belgian Malinois. Guiding the float is a floral American flag displayed within in a manicured garden lined with urns of elegant red Freedom roses and framed with oversized stars. Displays of Freedom roses cascade from floral arrangements bordering this magnificent floral entry. Daytime pyrotechnics explode amid floral fireworks at the rear section of the float. This is the first time in the history of the United States military that an animal, a dog, has been elevated to National Monument status by U.S. Congressional Law. The National Monument is solely funded by sponsor and citizens donations (zero tax dollars). To be a part of this historic Monument, contributions can be made at

Korean War Monument Image: Courtesy National Parks Service

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  • KP

    Thanks for that important history mixed in with the Parade. The ending makes it easy to start my morning with a smile!

  • ordinarysparrow

    Thanks Dorian….

    Dorian i am listening to my local NPR channel… It is about serving homeless vets, with it being the model for the future. Sorry this comment is not on topic but thought you might be interested in following this link about what may well be some positive movement towards helping Vets.

    Arthur Fillmore has spent more than thirty years closing the deal in corporate mergers and acquisitions in his professional life as an attorney. But for two decades he’s been unsuccessful in realizing the wish he’s held as a military veteran . . . until now.

    On 24 acres on the east side of Kansas City, work has begun on the St. Michael’s Veterans Center. When finished it will provide what Fillmore envisioned . . . one location where homeless vets can find quality housing and social services. When completed the Center will be a unique model on providing assistance for veterans.

    • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

      Thanks so much for the comment, OS — totally on-topic.

      There are several links in the article and I will look at them all and, if appropriate, “report.”

      Thanks again.

      Shortly I’ll be updating this post with an image of the beautiful “Canines with Courage” float

  • ordinarysparrow

    I had not seen the Korean War Monument before, they did a great job on it.
    A couple months ago i heard a NPR segment when they talked about the WWII dogs. I did not know they were most often recruited from civilian families, with the promise of being returned. There was an interview with an elderly women who still grieved that her beloved dog did not return. The military dogs are so deserving recognition. Wish i had seen the float and the post ending that you share.

    We have the National War World I museum and it is truly interesting. To see the war eras and what it was like for the soldiers and how much the military continues to change. My Native Grandfather was in World War I and have a number of old pictures of the troops and them posing the military weapons. There were tanks with maximum speed of 3 miles a hour, guns that could shoot 15 rounds a minute, machine guns that took 3 to 6 men to operate and non-understood PTSD that left many men silent and alone. All of it is very sobering both then and now.

    May this be a year when the soldiers that sacrifice the most for this country, not be given reason to be disappointed with the country and citizens they serve.

    Thanks Dorian for the posts and reports for the military.

    • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts about your Grandfather and your impressions of early military weapons, OS.

      The latter makes me ponder how our forefathers would have (re-)written the Second Amendment had they envisioned the “capabilities” of firearms as early as in World War I. I say “capabilities” in quotes because… well you know, x rounds per minute,y rounds per magazine and z-thousand feet per second, and…

      Finally, about military working dogs, it is almost time to do another set of photographss of these magnificent creatures.


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