Under a bright, sunny sky and with temperatures soaring close to 80 degrees, there were plenty of flags whipping in the wind along Escalon’s Main Street on Friday.
The flags, placed there by the Escalon American Legion Post, set the stage for a downtown parade to kick off the community’s Veterans’ Day events.
Veterans, city personnel, school and community groups, law enforcement, all marched or rode their way along the parade route, leaving from Coley, turning on to First and then heading along Main Street. A stop at the caboose for a flag ceremony briefly halted the action, but the half-hour long parade had plenty of entries for attendees to view. A dancing horse and some vintage vehicles were featured as well.
From the parade, it was on to the Community Center, where a crowd assembled for a special ceremony at the Memorial Wall, the laying of a wreath at the war memorial monument and a 21-gun salute, followed by the playing of Taps.
Guest speaker Bill Barnett, a pastor who works with the American Legion honor and color guard, told the crowd he has the utmost respect for their service and sacrifice.
“How can we pay our respects?” he said. “By having this day.”
He brought several youngsters up to get their thoughts on the day and also had them hand out lollipops to the veterans in the crowd, shaking their hand and thanking them.
“We can remember them, salute them, thank them,” Barnett urged. “We can also pray for them.”
Barnett said so many that come back from war have trouble readjusting to life and our prayers can help. He also thanked all those that have served for their part in preserving the freedoms we enjoy in this country.
“We celebrate and honor our veterans today,” Barnett said. “Everybody should do this, today, and every day.”
American Legion post member Casey den Ouden also took the podium and provided a listing of the local veterans who have passed since last year’s Veterans’ Day event.
They include Leonard Pereira, US Navy, WW II; Paul Dismukes, US Army, WWII; Joe Roche, US Army, Vietnam; Jay R. Davis, US Army, WW II; and Ralph Verschoor, US Army, WWII.
“These were five longtime American Legion post members,” den Ouden said. “We will never forget them.”