Local News

Monday, Nov 12 2012 05:55 PM

On cold day, a warm reception for vets

  1. 1 of 17

    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    Citizens pack the parade route at 20th and Eye streets, cheering as a line of military vehicles drives past during the 2012 Veterans Day Parade.

    click to expand click to collapse
  2. 2 of 17

    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    Marching with an enormous American flag of their own (the Bakersfield Fire Department's flag hangs from above), the South High Army JROTC stops and salutes the announcer's booth at the 2012 Veterans Day parade.

    click to expand click to collapse
  3. 3 of 17

    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    Carolyn Ashlock, decked out in patriotic apparel, was ready to ride on the Optimal Hospice Care entry in the Veterans Day parade.

    click to expand click to collapse
  4. 4 of 17

    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    Her sign was twice as tall as she, but 8-year-old Blu Fisher was ready to show her appreciation to Kern County veterans.

    click to expand click to collapse
  5. 5 of 17

    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    Six-year-old Rilee Beierle, left, chases her sister, Laci, 9, in a game of flag tag before the start of the 2012 Veterans Day parade. As always, flags were very popular at the parade honoring Kern County veterans.

    click to expand click to collapse
  6. 6 of 17

    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    Five-year-old Erik Grabein salutes the crowd from his "tank" while he marches in the Veterans Day parade.

    click to expand click to collapse
  7. 7 of 17

    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    The Beardsley Junior High marching band casts long shadows as they tune up one final time before the start of the 2012 Veterans Day parade.

    click to expand click to collapse
  8. 8 of 17

    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    It wouldn't be a parade without clowns and the Kern County Shriners were there with their best.

    click to expand click to collapse
  9. 9 of 17

    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    He wasn't in the parade, but Andrew Chavira, 10, was blowing his own horn from the sidewalk as the parade marched by.

    click to expand click to collapse
  10. 10 of 17

    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    The military-inspired Ural sidecar motorcycle may have been made in Russia, but Jim Patrick is an American veteran and he and his passenger, Dale Hins, were a popular sight along the parade route.

    click to expand click to collapse
  11. 11 of 17

    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    The Infectious Off-Road group performed their own unique display with their Jeeps during the 2012 Veterans Day parade.

    click to expand click to collapse
  12. 12 of 17

    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    Carrying every state flag, the South High Army JROTC marches proudly past thousands of spectators along the parade route.

    click to expand click to collapse
  13. 13 of 17

    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    An armored military vehicle rumbles down 21st Street at the start of the 21012 Veterans Day parade.

    click to expand click to collapse
  14. 14 of 17

    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    American flags were everywhere along the parade route for the 2012 Veterans Day parade.

    click to expand click to collapse
  15. 15 of 17

    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    Spectators lined the streets of downtown Bakersfield to honor Kern County veterans during the 2012 Veterans Day parade. The mural of the Statue of Liberty is located at the corner of 20th and Eye streets.

    click to expand click to collapse
  16. 16 of 17

    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    Bob Otto and the rest of the Honor Guard play as the colors are posted at the Veterans Memorial on Truxtun Avenue for the morning ceremonies of Veterans Day.

    click to expand click to collapse
  17. 17 of 17

    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    US Army Veteran Wesley Leon-Barrientos, a double-amputee who lost his legs in Iraq, was the keynote speaker at Veterans Day ceremonies held at the Veterans Memorial on Truxtun Avenue.

    click to expand click to collapse
BY JOHN COX Californian staff writer jcox@bakersfield.com

Amid all the marching-band pomp and military pageantry of Bakersfield's Veterans Day Parade, Alice Abril and her friends kept a close eye on their young, hyper-patriotic children reveling along the procession's front line.

"Keep it high!" Abril shouted to one of the youngsters the moment the American flag he was waving came perilously close to the asphalt.

Think of it not as intervention but as another part of the lesson -- which is, after all, why the three families come together for the annual event.

"They learn why they have the day off," said Abril's friend and mother of three Juliet Smith.

On a cold day that mixed glee with somber reflection, Bakersfield showed its true colors Monday: red, white and blue, with a dash of khaki camouflage.

From the respectful silence of the faithful who attended a morning flag-raising ceremony to the cheers of diverse masses lining the parade route, Bakersfield underlined its reputation not only as a city that supports the military unconditionally, but as a place where national pride has become a force for civic unity.

"We're very conservative here. It's very patriotic," Bakersfield resident Lynn Duncan said on Monday, her first day volunteering at the American Legion Post 26 Veterans Support Store on 21st and H streets. She added that she is not the only one of her friends with a 25-foot flagpole in her yard.

"To me it's an everyday thing. It's not just (on) Veterans Day."

After an early morning American Legion breakfast prepared by local law enforcement, veterans from several wars gathered with local government leaders for a flag-raising at the Veterans Memorial on Truxtun Avenue.

Calls to serve veterans

Frontier High School's marching band rendered "The Star-Spangled Banner" and a medley of military music in between prayers and often stirring speeches by local veterans, some in full uniform.

They called for peace and for honoring sacrifice, for strong local leadership and respect for educators.

The ceremony's keynote speaker, Army veteran and double-amputee Wesley Leon-Barrientos, made a special request on behalf of those with sometimes overlooked injuries.

"We must honor all of their families and not just with blue and gold-star banners but with compassionate hearts. PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), traumatic brain injury and life-altering war wounds not only affect the veteran, but can also take an enormous toll on the family as well," he said.

Speaker Lilia Morentin, who has served as a petty officer second class with the U.S. Navy and now works for the Kern County Superintendent of Schools, similarly asked for service not of veterans but to them.

"We have many wounded veterans in our world who need your compassion and your support," she said. "Find a way to help them, whether through Veterans Affairs offices or state and local government outreach programs. And given that we as a nation are at war today, there are many families in communities all over the country who could use a helping hand."

Patriotic celebration

The mood had turned jubilant by the time the parade was about to begin shortly after 10 a.m. Crowds roared as the Bakersfield Fire Department hoisted a giant American flag at the corner of H and 21st streets. A military helicopter soon soared overhead.

There began a two-hour long procession of veterans, vintage military vehicles, marching bands, support agencies, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, local car clubs, Junior ROTC members and Kern County Young Marines -- even the Bakersfield Junior Roller Derby.

Korean War veteran Welby Cramer watched part of the parade from inside the American Legion support store. He said how wonderful it was to see all the support for Veterans Day, making special note of the recognition being given to Vietnam War vets, who he said had initially received a poor reception.

"I'm very thankful for the reception (they're) getting now," said Welby, who served on a submarine with the U.S. Navy.

"It's a good feeling."

Have something to share? Comment on this story

Bakersfield.com Daily Deal!

Bling It Boutique

Daily Deal

$30 of merchandise for $15

Value
$30
% Off
50%
You Save
$15
10 Bought
Buy Now! See more deals