November 11, 2017 - Colton Veterans Day Commemoration
By Bill Betten, Co-Director of the California WW1 Centennial Task Force
I had never attended a Colton Veterans Day event before, but I was extremely surprised and pleased upon making my first appearance representing the California World War 1 Centennial Task Force. I had not known of the earlier Prayer Service and Veterans Parade that had taken place in town, but arrived well before the mid-morning's Veterans Honor Ceremony at Fleming Park had begun.
I had arrived early enough though to briefly meet the event organizer, Colton City Council Member Dr. Luis S. Gonzalez.
Dr. G had already been busy with the Veterans Parade at 9:30 a.m. with local dignitaries, veterans, the Scouts, the Colton Fire Department, and the Colton High School Marching Band among others.
The park began filling with many veterans, their families, and invited guests. Soon, the officials took their positions on stage. The Master of Ceremonies addressed thecrowd that sat on the arena benches or had ventured to claim locations in the shade of the park’s trees. A very fine ceremony followed that began with the usual opening prayer, presentation of the colors, and a singing of the National Anthem.
Speakers approached the podium and shared their thoughts with those attending on the issue of Veteran’s Day, but the most significant was yet tocome. Colton officials then stepped up to make a presentation to any and all Veterans present. Each one was called onto the stage an recognized for their service and to receive a special veterans medal and ribbon.
Amidst all the heroes being recognied I was invited on stage as a representative for the California WW1 Centennial Task Force to receive the medal for those who served during WW1. I told Dr. Gonzalez that it was my honor to walk for those who were no longer with us from 100 years ago.
Following the presentations, in honor of those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for their country, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Honor Guard fired an impressive twenty-one-gun salute and presented a playing of Taps.
All were then invited cross the street to attend the Veteran’s Showcase being held at the Colton Women’s Club where local veterans were spotlighted and had on display artifacts of their service. All of these had very interesting stories they eagerly shared.