The Washington Times - December 31, 2012, 03:03PM

Forget the beauty queens, skateboarding dogs and fancy cowboys. It’s the old soldiers who have garnered the most buzz in the 2013 Tournament of Roses Parade on Tuesday morning.

For the first time in history, the Defense Department has entered an official float in the annual New Year’s Day event, meant to mark the 60th anniversary of the Korean War.

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Amid the whimsey of the parade, the float offers a striking replica of the Korean War Veterans Memorial in the nation’s capital — crafted from 10,000 roses, 10,000 carnations and 500 catteleyas, plus silver leaf, eucalyptus leaves, and light and dark lettuce.

The theme of the entry: “Freedom Is not Free.” It stands 21 feet high and is 55 feet long and 18 feet wide.

And that’s the way the Pentagon will roll, along with 41 other entries in Pasadena, Calif.

A recipient of the Silver Star and Purple Heart, James McEachin, 82, is among six passengers aboard, all vets who fought in what some have called “the forgotten war,” which took the lives of 36,000 troops.

“I will be on the float in old soldier regalia, saluting and bringing awareness to Korean War veterans. An honor beyond my ability to measure. Hooah,” Mr. McEachin declares.