REDMOND, Ore. - Independence Day is often remembered for fun and fireworks. But for one Marine and Medal of Honor recipient who visited Redmond Thursday from his home in Santa Barbara, Calif., the day reminds him of why he dedicated his life to serving others.
"I spent approximately 28 years in the Marine Corps, and loved every minute of it," said Sgt. Maj. John L. Canley, who rode on a float in Redmond's Fourth of July Parade.
Canley, 81, joined the U.S. Marines at the age of 15. He served from 1953 to 1982.
As with most, if not all recipients of America's highest military honor, Canley said the medal does not belong to just him.
“I think it meant more to my troops than it meant to me," he said. "This medal is not mine. It belongs to me and all the Marines I had to serve with in Alpha Company 1-1.”
The Medal of Honor is the highest award presented to service members, and so many people in Redmond expressed their gratitude to Canley.
But the moment was even more special for Canley because it was shared with his daughter, Patricia Sargent, site manager for Consumer Cellular in Redmond. He rode on the company's float, honoring America's service men and women.
"I've learned a whole other side of my father," Sargent said. "He's really shown me what it means to be a leader and really caring for your people."
Canley said the Fourth of July is a special day for him, and it was important that he celebrated with the ones who mean the most to him. He spends much of his time now with active-duty Marines and also visiting veterans hospitals.
He said Americans should never doubt whether the Marine Corps will protect them.
"When the citizens look at the Marine Corps today and how they're trained and equipped, they don't ever have to worry about being saved," he said. "Because I guarantee that protection is there.”