They were welcomed with cheers of gratitude as they walked passed the crowds along Harbor Boulevard.
Some held signs of support that said, “God Loves Veterans” or “Our Heroes” while others with full smiles gave high-fives or shouted “thank you” and shook their hands.
There was a sense of pride and honor upon the faces of the high school JROTC cadets that marched in a methodical rhythm behind the veterans who sacrificed to give them that freedom.
Fullerton celebrated its 27th annual Veterans Day with a parade and ceremony in partnership with American Legion Post 142 and Emblem Club 469 on Tuesday Nov. 11.
The JROTC cadets stood at attention while Army veteran Ed Paul welcomed the community that gathered on Hillcrest Park to pay respect to veterans from all military branches.
“This is beautiful,” said Tina Nguyen, La Habra resident. “Our veterans deserved to be honored and respected.”
Veterans saluted and some put their hand over their heart while Kristen Romero sang the national anthem. Upon the faces of all those that stood, there seemed to be an understanding of the weight of those words and the seriousness of those who sacrificed their lives to honor it.
Scottie D. Carpenter, an Army Reserve with over 34 years of military service spoke with authority as he encouraged everyone who attended the event.
“Veteran’s sacrifice over the years has guaranteed Americans everywhere the right to pursue their own personal dream in peace and safety unlike any other nation in the world,” Carpenter said.
He noted how proud he was of the JROTC cadets that stood before him and that the future military is looking bright.
“These are our future guardians of freedom,” Carpenter said. “They’re going to be the ones to defend our country and allow us to be the best nation in the world. I applaud each of you for wearing the uniform you are wearing right now.”
Carpenter addressed the crowd and challenged them to go beyond saying, “thank you” to a veteran especially with those who struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder as they are more likely to feel lost or forgotten.
“History is much better when you hear it from the person that was there, rather than reading it from a textbook,” he said.
Carpenter awarded Brandon Su from Troy High School and Andrea Milinkovich from La Habra High School with command coins, a coin awarded to soldiers in the army for excellence. He added that they were outstanding individuals who deserved to be recognized for their commitment to the program.
After the awards, there was silence amongst the crowd to honor veterans who died while the military taps played and the Fullerton Police Honor Guard fired their weapons for the gun salute.
Veterans who were in attendance like Kendall Neisiss, World War II veteran, felt appreciated and thankful for the celebration.
“This is a good country and a good city we live in,” Neisiss said. “It’s great that our community supports this event.”