Yucaipa and Calimesa honors veterans

Written by Bob on November 11th, 2009

YUCAIPA, CA – About a half dozen veterans, many in wheel chairs, took their rightful place of honor near the amphitheater stage at Yucaipa Community Park for Veteran’s Day ceremonies on Wednesday.

They served in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. A ceremony could have been held in the comfort of Braswell’s Yucaipa Valley Convalescent Home, which is home for all of them now in their elderly years.

But they insisted upon coming to the Yucaipa Veteran’s Day Ceremony instead.

“This is big, an important occasion for them,” said Linda Nagai, Activities Director at Braswell’s.

“They really are patriotic and didn’t want to miss coming here. They’ve got flags on their wheel chairs waving all year round.”

VETERANS HONORED
Americans across the land gathered in small villages and large cities to honor and celebrate the contributions veterans have made for the freedoms we enjoy.

And the Yucaipa Valley was no exception.

About 500 Yucaipa Valley patriots waved small American flags, bowed their heads in remembrance of loved ones who served and lost their lives fighting in foreign lands, and listened solemnly as speakers talked of the day’s importance.

“Do non-veterans recognize the significance of Veterans Day?” Yucaipa Mayor, Dick Riddell asked rhetorically.

“How often do we stop and think of the brave men and women who defend our freedoms and way of life?

SERVICE TO COUNTRY
Riddle, a Navy veteran, served in World War II – as did a sister and brothers. He cited all the wars that Americans have fought in, died in, and for some, never came home from. He said that the Afghanistan and Iraq wars are especially difficult with some people questioning the need or justification for being there.

“But we are not here today to question, but to honor,” Riddle said. “Our nation often takes for granted the freedoms we enjoy. That is why we must all remember collectively on this day.”

Calimesa Councilman, Ray Quinto, enlisted in the Marine Corps when he was 17 and served in Vietnam with the first and third divisions. He said that 43.5 million Americans have worn a military uniform and served our country.

Many of today’s veterans are older – in their 60s, 70s, and 80s. He exhorted the crowd not to forget them.

“Visit the veterans hospital in Loma Linda (Jerry L. Pettis Memorial Veterans Medical Center) and thank the veterans from World War II, Korea, and Vietnam,” Quinto urged.

“We have two million veterans in California and 230,000 in Riverside and San Bernardino County. Visit the hospital and thank them for what they did and the sacrifices they made.”

FREEDOM’S PRICE
Guest speaker, Gary Martin, Post Commander of VFW Post 7347 said that every day when he walks into his office, he stops at the placard outside his door and reads the inscription.

“It says that it’s veterans who write a blank check for up to and including giving their lives,” Martin said. Martin also asked for a moment of silence in remembrance of the 13 service men and women killed and the 42 injured in the Fort Hood, Texas massacre on Nov. 5th.

The ceremony also included a moving rendition of “God Bless the USA,” by Tom Shaloub. Eyes moistened and brimmed with pride of being Americans as Shaloub’s voice rose and carried over the park land.

The Yucaipa High School ROTC presented the Colors, and the Boy Scouts of America marched proudly around the wide circular amphitheater, holding their flags straight and tall during the Parade of Flags.

The Scouts from Troop Four marched like soldiers around the stage with flags gently waving in a slight breeze. Camera shutters clicked. And people waved their own little flags vigorously and cheered their approval of the troop’s display of patriotism.

ALWAYS FAITHFUL
And when Bob Qualls, a retired Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant (1951-1971) who served in Korea and Vietnam gently released a single white dove that flew swiftly on silent wings over the crowd, applause broke out, and smiles brightened the day.

Gunnery Sgt. Qualls proudly said, “Semper Fi,” which means, “always faithful.”

85-year-old Leonard Frost of Yucaipa served in the Navy (1941-1945) during World War II on a tanker ship refueling fighter planes. He said it was an experience he’s proud of. But one he wouldn’t want to endure again. And one he won’t forget.

“We need ceremonies like this so people don’t forget for generations to come,” he said. “Me and my three brothers served in the Navy and Army. We all came back from the war. I’m grateful for that.”


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1 Comments so far ↓

  1. Ernest Behnke says:

    I served under Mr. Quinto who was the commanding officer of a Marine Corps field surgical team. He is by far the most outstanding person I have served with. He is truly a great American veteran.

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