By dean mayorga, Staff Writer
By dean mayorga, Staff Writer
Hundreds of people lined the streets of downtown Riverside on April 17 in celebration of the Fifth Annual Salute to Veteran’s Parade.
Riverside City College was used as the parade’s starting point to watch, pay tribute and grieve for our veterans and soldiers fighting today.
High hopes were set by many who have witnessed the past parades.
“It’s bigger and better every year,” said Annie Tuttle, worker at the VA Medical Center and volunteer for the parade since its beginning in 2006.
This year featured over 130 parade entries representing various branches of armed services as well as showcasing support from many members of the community.
Notable figures such as Congressman Ken Calvert were seen cruising through the parade route which flowed all the way to the Historic Riverside County Courthouse.
It was at the courthouse where a stage was set and this year’s Grand Marshal, Brigadier General Mary J. Kight, the Adjutant General for the California National Guard, took her place to watch the parade.
Kights’ presence was the cause for a lot of excitement as she is the first woman and black officer to have had command of 22,900 service men and women from the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard.
Spectators welcomed Kight with applause and cheers as the procession continued on.
Some of the entries included Sons of the American Revolution, Daughters of the American Revolution, Chapter 13 of the Society of Military Widows and Moms of the Military.
At times, people would take their eyes off the parade to watch the aircrafts flying over, such as a Huey helicopter or a C-17 transport plane from March Air Force Base.
Those who watched expressed different emotions. As some cheered or waved their flags, others grieved.
One man in particular wept silently, unnoticed by fellow onlookers.
However, all came to let their appreciation known as some shared stories of their loved ones or personal experiences.
Joe Delgado, a veteran of the Korean War, said this was a special time for him to represent those who fought in Korea specifically.
“The Korean War is the forgotten war,” Delgado said.
“We didn’t have anything when we got back. It was just normal like we never been away,” Delgado said.
Sara Vega, whose fiancé is a veteran of the Vietnam War and father died in WWII, attended for the first time this year.
Her fiancé, Joe Chavez, was a prisoner of war and endured torture at the hands of his aggressors.
“They didn’t feed him,” Vega said. “They used to hit him with bamboo sticks. He’s a very special soldier.”
Volunteer and emcee for the event, Mike Goldware, said that although the veterans are the most impacted by the display, there is still another group to reach.
He stressed how the people who were not in attendance were the ones who needed to witness the parade the most.
For Goldware’s fellow volunteer and emcee, Tuttle, the day was a small example of what she sees on a regular basis.
She revealed that at the VA medical center where she works there are over 8,000 soldiers coming in from current combat.
“I get to see the price of freedom every single day,” Tuttle said.