Among the marching marines and army bands at the 23rd annual Veterans Day parade through downtown Palm Springs, one valley veteran was honored with her son. They share a special bond: they're both marines.
"Mom's a rockstar," said Lt. Col. Jim Irwin. "Wherever she goes in her uniform, everybody has to have a picture."
He rode down Palm Canyon drive in a classic black Cadillac alongside his mother, Cpl. Dorothee Irwin, a Palm Springs resident and 96-year-old World War II veteran who served 1943-1945.
"To be honored in this parade was such a surprise to me because it isn’t something I look for," Irwin said. "I don’t think I'm worth it. I don't think I deserve it."
Irwin began her service stationed at Camp Pendleton, the largest marine base in California. "I was clever at running the mess hall," she said.
She was then transferred to the post exchange, where the two men in charge left the responsibility in her hands.
"They said, 'You’re going to do just fine. Goodbye! We’re going overseas,'" Irwin said.
It was there she sang in the women's glee club as an alto. "I had a pretty good singing voice," Irwin said.
And on a blind date, she met her husband of more than 69 years.
After a few years at the base, she retired to start her family. "The end of November 1945, and I said 'Sempre fi. That’s it."
Her son Jim, a Palm Springs High School graduate and former teacher, says his mom is a hero and his inspiration.
"She answered a call that very few took to heart," he said.
He was honored this Veteran's Day next to his mom, who wore her original summertime uniform.
"She had a winter uniform but moths got to it, I guess," he said. "It was eating up pretty bad."
As Irwin and her son rode by in that classic black cadillac, their family and friends cheered them on.
"If we didn't have our veterans, we wouldn't be here – period," said Marie Irwin, Dorothee's daughter.
"Proud of mom – I'm very proud of mom," Jim said. "Like I said, she's a rockstar."