That’s some serious military hardware parading down city streets, but, no, this isn’t Moscow’s Red Square — it’s Long Beach, California.
Coming only a month after the Soviet Union’s successful Sputnik demonstration, Long Beach’s 11 November 1957 Veterans Day parade touted US missile technology. One truck showcased a Nike anti-aircraft missile. Another displayed a Regulus cruise missile from the Long Beach Naval Shipyard. A banner proclaimed the weapon — typically armed with a nuclear warhead — as a “Defender of Peace”. Meanwhile, Dorene Porter of the Long Beach Junior Chamber of Commerce shared a convertible with an elaborate tin-foil prop said to be a captured Soviet satellite. In all, the procession consisted of 129 separate units and lasted two and a half hours.
Long Beach’s may have been a particularly martial affair, but other Southland communities also emphasised aerospace technology in their Veterans Day events that year. Missiles rolled down the streets of Downey, Bell and Burbank — a curious image for a holiday that originally celebrated the declaration of peace at the end of the world’s first “Great War”.