In recognition of Veteran’s Day, residents came together both in-person and online as Main Street in downtown Merced was transformed to honor those who had served this country.
The city’s 17th annual Veterans Day Parade included a broadcast ceremony with speakers and awards that took place in Bob Hart Square, as well as a drive-thru parade that invited residents to drive down Main Street, which was lined with colorful and patriotic displays.
As the days events got underway, Merced County Veteran Service Officer Glenn Galman welcomed at-home viewers tuning into the live-streamed event.
“While it can be said every day is a day to appreciate and thank our veterans, we as a grateful nation, set aside today, the 11th day of the 11th month, to specifically remember America’s Veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good,” Galman said. “Today we especially remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. … Sacrificing is, as President Reagan described, two lives — the lives they were living and the lives they would have lived. Today we remember for them, so that their legacies will never be forgotten by us or our children.”
Galman went on to say the purpose of the day was also for remembering the sacrifices made by the families of those who have served. “We all know that we would not succeed in life without the support of the ones you love and love you in return. So on behalf of Merced County, thank you all for joining us in celebration and remembrance and we hope you enjoy your time with us today.”
Deputy Secretary of Women Veterans at the California Department of Veterans Affairs Virgina Wimmer served as the events keynote speaker. Wimmer served as a Senior Master Sergeant in the U.S. Air Force from 1986 to 2012 before going on to work as the Veterans Benefit Counselor at the Solano County Veterans Services Office from 2012 to 2014, and the Deputy Director of Veterans Services and County Veterans Service Officer at the San Joaquin County Health Care Services Agency since 2014.
“We have all performed duties that are vital to our American way of life,” Wimmer said of her fellow veterans. “It is not just today that we should thank a veteran, it is every day. If you enjoy speaking English, if you enjoy speaking Spanish, if you love speaking Hangul, if you love speaking Tagalog, Italian, thank a veteran.”
This year’s parade Grand Marshals included Joseph L. Shifflet, CPL, California Army National Guard; Christopher Garcia, SFC, California Army National Guard; Mario Talamante, SPC, United States Army; Ildo Martins, SPC, United States Army; and Richard Vazquez, ADJ3, United States Navy.