The city of Fullerton paid tribute to veterans at Hillcrest Park, with the 32nd Annual Veterans Day parade and ceremony on Monday.
Veterans from across North Orange County that served as far back as World War II were in attendance for the parade. Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) programs from local high schools marched behind the veterans in the parade and competed to be the best presented program on parade.
The Fullerton Veterans Day parade and ceremony at the Veterans Memorial was organized by American Legion Post 142 from Fullerton.
The Veterans Day celebration started in the Fullerton Museum plaza with a commemorative speech from Fullerton Mayor Jesus Silva. Silva gave thanks to the veterans and their families in attendance for their sacrifices.
The parade kicked off at 10:30 a.m. when the Fullerton Police Department blocked northbound traffic on Harbor Blvd. to make way for the veterans and JROTC cadets marching in the parade.
Once the marchers reached the parade deck in front of the Veterans Memorial, the JROTC units lined up in formation to be inspected by the American Legion’s guest of honor Brigadier General Stuart Warner; the deputy commanding general for the 79th Theater Sustainment Command in Los Alamitos.
Gen. Warner awarded Troy High School’s Navy JROTC unit for being the best displayed JROTC unit participating in the parade.
Gen. Warner made it adamant that he hoped to see young Americans treat their civic duties as necessary obligations to ensure the sacrifices veterans had made were not done in vein.
“Remember the military because the military provides a lot more than just defending the constitution,” Gen. Warner said. “You can vote, lobby your congressman and senators to provide funding to do all the things the country asks the military to do.”
Members of the military weren’t the only distinguished guests present for the ceremony. Retired Fullerton PD dispatcher Kristen Romero sang a medley of patriotic songs and the National Anthem throughout the ceremony.
Romero, having family members with military service felt it was her duty to give back to the veterans in the community by contributing to the annual ceremony held at Hillcrest Park.
“It’s just my way of just giving back a little bit,” Romero stated. “I try to do this every year. I’ve been doing this for about 15 years.”
Even with the increased presence of politicians, the tone of the celebration was not at all political. Congressman Gil Cisneros, Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva and County Supervisor Doug Chaffee, were strictly patriotic and unifying in their message towards those attending their barbecue after the ceremony.
All three politicians were adamant how veterans’ affairs are a humanitarian issue, not a political one.
Chaffee made his message to the veterans in attendance more personal than anything.
“This is Veterans Day and it’s very special to me,” said Chaffee. “This hat I’m wearing is (for) my son’s submarine. Last week he came home from being underwater for 55 days.”
Chaffee expressed sentiment how the sacrifices made by veterans were also made by their families, who go for extended periods of time without seeing their loved ones for months on end without communication.
According to The Library of Congress, Veterans Day was originally established as “Armistice Day” in 1919 to celebrate the end of World War I. In 1954, Congress formally declared Nov.11 a federal holiday and renamed the occasion Veterans Day to honor veterans from every American conflict.