Community members gathered on State Street last Saturday for the annual Veteran’s Day parade commemorating the millions of men and women who have served the United States military.
The event featured military vehicles, decorated cars and foot processions. Spectators ranged from those who were not affiliated with the military to those who were friends or relatives of service people.
Spectator Kathy Clough said her father was a Green Beret who worked for the CIA.
“He truly believed in what he was doing and that he was fighting for what he believed in,” Clough said. “I respect these soldiers as the warriors they are for our country.”
Sylvia Butler, a permanent female auxiliary at the American Legion and wife of a Vietnam veteran, said she was most affected by a car honoring Alberto Garcia Jr., a 23-year old Bakersfield native who was killed in Iraq. Garcia’s loved ones carried banners alongside a car decorated with his military information.
“I cried when I saw that car drive past,” Butler said. “I couldn’t help myself. It is just so sad.”
In addition to the procession of automobiles, a helicopter carrying Vietnam veterans flew over the area.
Retired Corporal of the Army Signal Corps and Korean War veteran Jim Williams said he knew the veterans flying overhead, adding that the annual event is important to many former service people in the area.
“[The Veterans Day parade] means a lot to me,” he said. “I wish that there was a bigger turnout and that the parade was bigger. The military takes a lot out of you, especially if you are engaged in combat. It seems people have forgotten about us veterans from the Korean and Vietnam War eras.”
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, there are over 23 million veterans living in the United States. Veterans residing in California can access an array of services through the Dept. of Veteran Affairs at www.cdva.ca.gov.