The Marine Corps League Detachment 1155, American Legion Post 202 and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10789 teamed up with the Heritage High School Band, local Scouts, city leaders and the American Civil War Association (ACWA) in an hour-long ceremony under blue skies at Veterans Park.
About 200 attended the event, which concluded with a trio of volleys from a pair ACWA cannon, fired precisely at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, marking the signing of the armistice that ended World War I.
Dale Cook of the Marine Corps League emceed the event, reminding the audience of the difficulties faced by those who have defended our freedom over the years. A veteran of Iwo Jima, Cook saluted veterans throughout the years who have gone into harms way despite the peril. Many did not return, and some who did were surprised to.
“I didn’t expect to live, nobody expected to live,” Cook said. “But we all had a happy attitude about it.”
Commander Mike Clement of the American Legion said the situation many current vets find themselves in is unacceptable. He reminded listeners that “many of the tattered citizens of the streets were yesterday’s toast of the town.”
Navy veteran and Brentwood Mayor Bob Taylor said there are 21.5 million vets in the country, including 1.9 million in California and 63,000 in Contra Costa County.
He pointed out the music of the Heritage Band, the traffic whooshing past and the sounds of children playing nearby, and said those things are what the veterans’ efforts were all about.
“I hear life, I hear freedom,” said Taylor. “If we didn’t have our veterans we wouldn’t have that – I guarantee it.”
VFW Commander Jeff Weber, also a Navy historian, said virtually every conflict in which men and women have fought was, at the time, expected to be the last war. The reality is that the role of the military in preserving freedom will never go away.
“We know, even as we bring troops home, they will be needed again, probably sooner than later.”