PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. -- Service members from the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center and Presidio of Monterey Garrison displayed their military marching skills for the local community by participating in a pair of local parades occurring during the first week of July.

The cities of Seaside and Monterey each brought back their traditional Independence Day parades this year after a hiatus in 2011 due to budget constraints.

The Parade of Champions, held annually since 1947 (with the exception of 2011), took place along Freemont Street in Seaside on July 1. Local military representatives shared the parade route with fire trucks, police units, veterans' groups, classic cars, clowns and a diverse variety of local community organizations. The parade was billed as a salute to our nation's military and public safety organizations.

Despite occurring midweek this year, thick crowds lined Alvarado Street and Calle Principal in downtown Monterey for the return of the city's 4th of July parade. On a day that commemorates the nation's declaration of independence from the British monarchy in 1776, enthusiastic spectators demonstrated their patriotism by waving small American flags and giving a standing ovation to military units that marched near the head of the parade.

"This was a patriotic group," said Maj. Greg Cassat, associate dean DLIFLC Immersion Language Office, who led the DLIFLC military units participating in the Monterey parade. "When the flag passed by they were all standing and clapping and showed a lot of pride in their country. It makes me feel proud to serve."

Monterey has a historic relationship with our military that began on July 7, 1846, when Commodore John Drake Sloat, accompanied by a group of sailors and Marines, landed on the beach below Monterey Customs House, raising the American flag and claiming California for the United States.

"We are an important part of this community," said Cassat. "We want them to see what we do as Soldiers, to help remind people that a price is still being paid for their freedom."