The City of Turlock’s Veterans Day celebration took place at a new location this year, but support for those who have served was at an all-time high.
U.S. military members past and present were honored during a special ceremony at the Turlock Regional Sports Complex on Thursday morning, where high school performers, local dignitaries and others from throughout the community gathered to say “thank you” to service members for their sacrifice.
The annual event is usually held in downtown Turlock’s Central Park, but was switched to the larger sports park this year to allow more people to safely attend. Last year, the City hosted a drive-through Veterans Day ceremony as the world was just eight months into the global pandemic.
The Pitman High School Marching Pride and Color Guard were on hand for a rousing rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” and other patriotic tunes, and the audience listened to remarks from Congressman Josh Harder, Stanislaus County Supervisor Vito Chiesa and Rear Admiral Michael Seward.
Harder, whose World War II veterans’ health care bill passed the Veterans’ Affairs Committee last week, mentioned both of his grandfathers and his great uncle during his remarks, who defused German bombs on the beaches of Normandy and toured the South Pacific defending the country’s freedom. One even met Ghandi while in Burma, he said.
“Some of my earliest memories are the stories they told me about the men they served alongside, what it was like to wear the flag on their shoulders and what it meant to serve their country. It’s worth repeating that these men and women defeated fascism one act of heroism at a time. They saved our country and frankly they saved the world,” Harder said. “Today is about the incredible men and women like them who put everything on the line so the rest of us can enjoy the freedom and safety we hold dear every single day.”
Seward pointed to the seemingly-fractured state of the nation and named off all of the different U.S. presidents he’s served under, from Nixon to Obama.
“I've seen the way our country and our military move back and forth like a pendulum. Sometimes we think we swing too far. Sometimes we don't think we swung far enough,” Seward said. “But we've survived it all. And we will continue to survive it all.”
Turlock’s relationship with its veterans could serve as an example for the rest of the world, he added, and he pointed to the Pitman students in attendance to continue the tradition.
“I want you to understand when you hold ceremonies right now, today, who you're really talking to and who you're really sharing with are these people to my right and left. This is the future of America, and within your ranks out there stand future veterans who will serve proudly and have their picture displayed in this city on the street lamps,” Seward said. “...I want you to understand what America is all about. No matter what you hear or what you see, you should feel blessed to grow up in the city of Turlock, California, in America, and I personally wish you young men and women the greatest success that you can go out and make a difference.”