Veterans, fallen and alive, were honored on Monday, Nov. 11 by the city of Fullerton with a parade and ceremony to thank soldiers for their service and sacrifices for the country.
The city, along with Fullerton American Legion Post 142 and Fullerton Emblem Club 469, hosted the 26th annual Veterans Day observance at Hillcrest Park.
The day began with a flyover by the Air Combat USA, a company that allows civilians to fly in military planes based at the Fullerton Airport.
Following the flyover, a marching parade was conducted by the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps units from area high schools La Habra, Buena Park, Fullerton Union, Sonora and Troy. The parade began at Wilshire Avenue and headed north on Harbor Boulevard.
JROTC units entered Hillcrest Park where they were applauded by spectators who were awaiting their arrival. The units filed in formation as Don Bankhead, a Navy veteran who served in Korea, began the ceremony.
Hundreds of spectators gathered for the ceremony alongside local politicians who were in attendance: Senator Loretta Sanchez, Fullerton mayor Bruce Whitaker and Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk Silva. Also in attendance were many veterans from all divisions of the armed forces.
“The Star-Spangled Banner” was sung by guest soloist Jonathan Balzora and followed by the Pledge of Allegiance by Candy Valko, the president of Fullerton Emblem Club 469.
“Military Medley” was sung by Balzora as veterans stood up by division to be recognized by the spectators.
Guest speaker Maj. Gen. Megan P. Tatu, commanding general of the 79th Sustainment Support Command in Los Alamitos, addressed the crowd. She expressed her gratitude to the members of the armed forces for the countless sacrifices they have made. She also expressed gratitude to the families of the members, who made sacrifices as well.
Tatu took the time to acknowledge the men and women who currently serve in the armed forces, many who are college-aged.
“Know, as I have been privileged to personally witness, that the warriors of today are every bit as honorable, patriotic and courageous as those who filled their ranks in a previous time,” said Tatu.
Tatu offered advice for how those who have not served could honor veterans.
“The greatest thanks that an American can give a veteran is to not waste the freedoms that our men and women sacrificed to gain,” said Tatu. “Live your lives well, and to the fullest. Be productive citizens, and in so doing, you give meaning to their sacrifice.”
Tatu thanked those in the community who took time out of their day to show their support for the veterans.
“It’s beautiful,” said Larry Brown, a Navy veteran, about the ceremony. He stated that he tries to come every year and enjoyed that more people gathered around for this year’s ceremony.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, spectators gathered around to hear some of the war stories veterans were willing to talk about.
Whitaker took time to greet veterans and spectators after the ceremony. He stated that he was proud to be mayor of a city where the community came out to show their support for all those who have served this country.
Jeff Harris, a United States Army veteran, who helped organize the event, said Monday’s ceremony was one of the largest in the city’s history.