On Sunday afternoon, Colusa County veterans and residents gathered at Veterans Memorial Park in Colusa to honor the bravery and sacrifice of those who have served their country during the annual Veterans Day ceremony.
Members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 2441 and American Legion Post No. 218 conducted the ceremony in the midst of the park’s seven memorial walls, which house bricks engraved with the names of 888 veterans from Colusa County. Since last year, 56 bricks have been added, as well as sculpture panels that commemorate the Vietnam and Korean Wars, veteran Dennis Sanders said. By next year, two more sculpture panels will be added for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, in addition to an eighth wall, thanks to the generosity of the community, Sanders added.
This year, Veterans Day also marked the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. Until 1954, Veterans Day was known as Armistice Day, which honored the eleventh-hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918, when Germany and the Allied powers signed an armistice agreement that brought an end to the fighting in the first World War.
Colusa Mayor Greg Ponciano once again served as the master of ceremonies for the event this year.
“Standing in the company of the people behind me is literally the coolest thing I get to do on the council,” Ponciano said. “…We are here today to honor our heroes – to remember their achievements, their courage, and their dedication, and to say thank you for their sacrifices. They set aside their personal ambitions and dreams to ensure the well-being of our great nation. We the free are indeed the beneficiary of those who made tremendous sacrifices to ensure our liberty.”
Colusa County Veteran George Sandridge delivered the opening prayer, and Mini Miss Colusa County Allison Traynham sang the national anthem.
This year’s keynote speaker was Colusa County’s Veterans Services Officer and retired U.S. Army 1st Sgt. Don Parsons.
“The veterans we honor here today, many of which are behind me on the tribute wall, come from all walks of life,” Parsons said. “But we all share several fundamentals: We all possess courage, pride, determination, selflessness, dedication to duty, and integrity. All these qualities are needed to serve a cause larger than one’s self.”
Citing Winston Churchill, Parsons said that a great societal debt is owed to the small portion of the population who serves in the country’s military, and encouraged those gathered at the park on Sunday to honor that debt by supporting veterans and their families.
“Volunteer to help a veteran or service member, regardless of if you are a veteran or not. We have many wounded veterans in our nation who need your support. Find a way to reach out to them,” Parsons said.
He added that there are many families of service members across the nation who could use “a hand up.”
“For many of those on deployment, knowing that their families are receiving support while they are deployed and serving in the armed forces can bring reassurance and peace of mind to them,” Parsons said.
Parsons also stressed the importance of promoting military service to the youth.
“In a time of war, volunteers for service are hard to find,” he said. “But I think promoting military service goes beyond that: We need to do a better job of letting our youth know that our great nation’s military is a viable career option with unlimited opportunities. Many of those young men and women, when they come back from their service, come back to be the leaders of our community. This should begin in our hometowns, and through our teachers and educators in our nation’s schools.”
Parsons encouraged veterans to share their stories to show the many faces of military service.
“The more we talk about what we do, and the impact that military service has had in our lives, the better we are able to hold up the examples of excellence from our service,” Parsons said. ■