Veterans Day last week was quiet in Colusa County as most government workers enjoyed a day off from work.
Courthouses and office buildings were closed, and school was out – distant or otherwise.
But Veterans Day wasn’t like the other quiet holidays held throughout the calendar year. On Nov. 11, dozens of people gathered in Veterans Memorial Park in Colusa for an annual ceremony to honor the bravery and sacrifice of those who served in the armed forces, including a number of veterans who served themselves and a contingency of firefighters from Sacramento River Fire District and Colusa Fire Department.
“This community has always honored its veterans,” said Assemblyman James Gallagher, who gave the keynote address. “It’s really an example for all communities throughout the state and throughout the nation.”
In 2016, Gallagher, R-Yuba City, pushed through a resolution in the State Legislature to designate the portions of State Highway routes 16, 20, and 45 in Colusa County for inclusion in the National Purple Heart Trail, which includes also Interstate 5.
Gallagher did so, in part, because of the very park from which he spoke on Veterans Day, located on Market Street, in the heart of Colusa at the junction of Highways 20 and 45.
The National Purple Heart Trail was established in 1992 for the purpose of commemorating and honoring men and women who have been wounded or killed in combat while serving in the United States Armed Forces, and the trail courses its way across the vast majority of the United States.
“I worked with a lot of the veterans groups to make that so,” Gallagher said. “It was so important to your local veterans that we recognize and be a part of that national movement to have the Purple Heart Trail Highway right here in our own community of Colusa.”
Part of the Colusa Veteran’s Day ceremony was the rededication of the Veterans Memorial by Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 2441 and American Legion Post No. 218, which this year added a sculptured panel to the back of Wall No. 7 to honer the women who served in the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard.
According to the U.S. Census bureau, there are 1.7 million women veterans living in cities and communities across the nation, and 17.4 million total.
The local VFW and American Legion each year, as part of the ceremony, reads aloud the names of the local men and women veterans who names are enshrined on the memorial panels that have become focal points in the park.
“Since last year, we have added 36 new bricks to Wall No. 8, bringing our total to 966,” said Former VFW Commander Dennis Sanders.
Veterans day originated as “Armistice Day” on Nov. 11, 1919, the first anniversary marking the end of World War I. Congress made it an annual observance in 1926, and it became a national holiday in 1938.
The Armistice itself occurred in the 11th hour on the 11th day in the 11 month of 1918. In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed legislation to change the name to Veterans Day to honor all those who served in the military in war or peace, unlike Memorial Day (in May), which honors veterans killed in action, as well as veterans no longer living.
“In the aftermath of World War II and the Korean War, Armistice Day became Veterans Day, a holiday dedicated to American veterans of all wars,” said Colusa Councilman Greg Ponciano, who spoke at the annual ceremony. “Different than Memorial Day, Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans living or dead, but especially gives thanks to living veterans who served their country honorably during war ”
VFW Commander Mike Jones spoke briefly to the assembled. VFW Chaplain George Sandridge gave the invocation.