FAIRFIELD — Bonnie Comstock of Suisun City, armed with her American flag, proudly called Sunday “a perfect day to honor our veterans with this wonderful parade.”
Nearly 60 local marching bands, groups of service members and veterans, classic car clubs, decorated horses, local civic groups and local leaders, all decked out in red, white and blue, marched or rode through downtown Fairfield on a crisp, clear Sunday to honor those who defended their country.
“This is fabulous. This is a wonderful feeling,” said former Women’s Army Corps member Dolores Sanders of the day that honors her and other veterans. “I wish every city in the state would have a parade such as this.”
All the branches of service were represented in the parade by either active-duty service members such as the Travis Air Force Base Leadership School or others such as Korean War veteran Marine Command Sgt. Major Jesse Branch.
Earlier in the day, more than 150 people attended the Veterans Day Commemoration ceremony at the Fairfield Community Center, which started with an hour-long musical tribute by the Alive Music Orchestra.
The Travis Air Force Base Honor Guard posted the colors and conducted the POW/MIA Five Hat service to honor U.S. veterans who were prisoners of war or are missing in action.
Travis also made its presence known at both events with a C-17 Globemaster III flyover, marching units in the parade and 349th Air Mobility Wing Commander Brig. Gen. Jay Flournoy serving as parade Grand Marshal.
Flournoy called it a great honor to represent both current service members serving their country throughout the world “and so many who have gone before us to defend the freedoms that we have today.”
Fairfield’s long-standing tradition honors the holiday that first started as Armistice Day in 1919 to honor those who fought in World War I. It was changed to Veterans Day in 1954 to honor the veterans who fought in all America’s wars.
Fairfield Mayor Harry Price and Solano County Supervisor Mike Reagan both presented proclamations honoring veterans and service members at the ceremony.
Travis commander Col. Dwight Sones returned the community’s compliment to the military past and present by thanking the Solano County community for its support, which he called “absolutely tremendous.”
Keynote speaker John Harris of the Liberty Christian Center, who had served as an Air Force chaplain, talked about growing up in a military family knowing that “military service meant sacrifice,” both for the service member and for their family. He pointed out that the military family serves alongside their military member.
As a chaplain Harris had both counseled families here about being separated from their deployed loved ones and counseled service members while he was deployed to locations such as Iraq.
Harris told of listening to service members he met while serving as a hospital chaplain in Iraq such as a Marine who had been shot in the hand and was mad about the fact he was being sent home instead of back to his unit.
Military service, Harris said, tested veterans to the core but ended up making those who served better citizens, fathers, mothers and spouses.
Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ithompsondr.