November 10, 2018 - City of Colton Veterans Day - Armistice Centennial Event
Fleming Park - Colton
By Bill Betten, Co-Director of the California WW1 Centennial Task Force
his year’s City of Colton’s Veterans Day celebration was augmented as an officially sponsored California WW1 Centennial Task Force Armistice Centennial Event, or ACE. The commemorations followed the city’s usual Veterans Day program, that of a packed and planned morning starting off with a Prayer Ceremony, followed by the Veterans Parade, continuing with the Honor Ceremony in Fleming Park, and then finalizing the morning’s events with a Veteran’s Showcase across the street. T
Once again, Colton City Council Member Dr. Luis S. Gonzalez, or as he is known to the community of Colton, Dr. G, planned and presented one of the finest Veterans Day celebrations available to attend in Southern California. The 8:00 a.m. Prayer Ceremony, held at Pete S.Lugue Community Center at 292 East “O” St. began with an opening prayer by Colton Christian Church Pastor Danny Fuentes. The Colton High School NJROTC presented the colors as VFW Post #6476 Commander Jess Saucedo, assisted by Girl Scout Troup 11 lead the Pledge of Allegiance, and vocalist Scott Hensel sang the National Anthem.
Colton Mayor, Richard DeLaRosa then welcomed all and introduced the guest speaker Colton Joint Unified School District Board Member Dan Flores.
The Colton Faith Collective Ministers Association then lead those assembled through a Veteran’s Dedication and Veteran’s Prayer. Dr. G gave closing remarks reminding everyone to enjoy the refreshments provided by Community Services and then to gather for the Veterans Parade at 9:30 a.m.
The Veterans Parade proceeded down La Cadena Drive and then “O” Street heading north to Fleming Park. The NJROTC from Colton High School and the Colton Fire Department shared a pace in the parade with local dignitaries and most importantly, veterans. The Colton High School Marching Band, Dr. G’s former charges, entertained those who viewed the parade with their variety of rousing marches.
I am sorry to report that I was unable to take any photos of the Prayer Ceremony as I was quite busy setting up the California WW1 Centennial Task Force booth and display at the Woman’s Club, (my faithful right hand, my wife, Joni Betten had travelled out of state to meet our brand new granddaughter,) but I did get to hear the band come down the street in their gallant uniforms.
As Dr. G, who acted as Master of Ceremonies for all of the morning’s events, took the outdoor stage of Fleming Park’s band shell, the many dignitaries, veterans, and invited guests took their places amongst the audience. Many families had already staked out locations in the shade of the park’s trees and stage benches. Pastor Pete Tasaka of the Vineyard Christian Fellowship offered the opening prayer followed again by the Colton High NJROTC presentation of the colors. American Legion Post 155’s Commander Ken LeBron led the pledge with the Scouts with another singing of the National Anthem by Mr. Hensel.
After the mayor again welcomed everyone there, Dr. G had the audiencerecognize the one hundredth anniversary of the passing of the Eleventh Hour of the Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month in 1918 and the end of the first great world war and all were invited to participate in the “Bells of Peace” commemorating the final day of WW1 when the last shot was fired ending “the war to end all wars.”
California Assembly Member Eloise Gomez-Reyes gave the keynote address. Dr. G then called forward the dignitaries of Colton to present all Veterans of all wars and conflicts forward one at a time to be recognized for their service and receive a special decoration created for the commemoration.
As the official representative for all those who served in WW1, I was asked to receive the medal for the California WW1 Centennial Task Force and every American who served in WW1. It was a great honor that I hope those in the audience shall not soon forget. I know I never will.
Though the presentation was lengthy, as Dr. G made every effort to recognize by name every veteran present, a more fitting finally could not have been planned than that which the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6476 gave. The post’s Honor Guard offered in remembering those who have died in service to their country a twenty-one-gun salute and playing of Taps.
Dr. Gonzalez then thanked all for coming and invited everyone to attend the Veteran’s Showcase being held just across the street at the Colton Women’s Club at 495 N. 7th St. Here they would have the opportunity to view the California WW1 Centennial Task Force’s WW1 display, meet special veterans, and see many artifacts American soldiers
It was here also that I was besieged at the WW1 Centennial booth with many interested Americans and descendants who would ask about the service of the sailors and Doughboys of WW1.
Though I was quite committed to attend other Armistice Centennial Events that day and had to pack up and leave the day was not over in Colton and I was informed that the VFW Post 6476 was inviting everyone to an Open House that afternoon from 2:00 to 6:00 p.m.
I want to thank Dr. Luis Gonzalez and the people of Colton for inviting me and the and the California WW1 Centennial Task Force to their Veterans Day/Armistice Centennial Event. It was a great day, a great event, enjoyed by all.