Happy Veterans Day
I am a veteran. There, I said it. I wasn’t always so quick to do so. In my time, it was not popular to be identified as a veteran. In fact, during my service in the United States Air Force (and for years after), I rarely wore my uniform off base and never told anyone what I did for a living unless they asked.
If you’ve been around our town Tustin for awhile, you may remember we used to have a veterans day parade. Every year, the guy who owned the auto parts store would haul out some cool antique motorized military equipment and, along with the local American Legion Post 227 and a bunch of other people, they would produce a parade of about 4 blocks down El Camino Real.
I remember the final year of the actual parade, the festivities ended at Peppertree Park and there would be lots of activities for the kids and food for the families. It was a great time had by all. That year, there was a ’50’s style swing band and some singers dressed in USO style costumes who actually sang a pretty good rendition of the Andrews Sisters singing Chattanooga Choo Choo
That year, the MC began a tribute to our living veterans by asking them to stand up, according to their era – World War II, the Korean War, and then Vietnam. I sat there until my wife nudged me and asked me to stand. I looked around to see if there was anyone else was standing….there was. I stood up, ready to sit back down. And, a remarkable thing happened. The MC said, “welcome home”. And, there I was crying. No one had ever said that before.
A lot have years have come and gone. I’ve been welcomed home and thanked numerous times since. I am humbled and thankful for those who are thankful because they appreciate the sacrifice of service to our great country. Sadly, our hometown Veterans Day celebration is no longer a part of Tustin. And, that’s a shame because our children may lose their appreciation for what our military does for them and their parents.
In the back of my mind, I always hope I will hear the call of the bugle down El Camino Real again. Perhaps our city council, who claim to be veteran friendly, will consider a new parade sponsored by a city with a proud heritage of military service to our country. In the meantime, enjoy the day and, if you get a chance, thank a veteran for their service. Most of them will shy away from embarrassment. Don’t let that stop you.
Sgt. John Gallagher USAAF WWII
Cpl. June Gallagher USAAF WWII
Spec.4 John T. Gallagher US Army Vietenam
Spec.4 Joseph W. Gallagher US Army Vietnam (in-country)
Sgt. Jeffrey K. Gallagher US Air Force Vietnam
Seaman Robert W. Morgan US Navy (Res) Cold War Era