Oakdale as a community was one of many hosting a special Veterans Day observance on Friday.
On Nov. 11 each year, the United States showcases the red, white and blue to honor all those that have taken the step to enlist in the service and fight for this country.
Veterans Day is an established holiday set aside to offer thanks and recognize the service and sacrifice of all men and women that are serving or have served in the military.
Many local residents took time to attend the annual Veterans Day ceremony at Fish Park in Oakdale and the day began with a parade filled with floats that were covered head to toe in red, white and blue balloons and had many children walking alongside or riding on the floats. Many were holding signs that were handmade for the troops. After the parade made its way from the F.E.S. Hall on North Lee Avenue to Fish Park, there was time for residents to gather for the main ceremony.
City of Oakdale employee and retired Navy veteran Patrick Mondragon opened the ceremony as well as emceed the rest of the event.
The observance began with Scout Troop 43 posting the colors and was followed by the National Anthem that was sung by Rayna Rogers. The Pledge of Allegiance was then recited by Oakdale FFA officers Jenna and Jessica Sanders and an invocation was given by the Pastor of Sierra Foothills Community Church and Army veteran Henry Raven.
Many veteran-based groups not only joined in the parade fun but also came to the podium to speak on their group’s behalf at the Fish Park portion of the day. Some of those groups included Veterans In Action, American Veterans First, Mid Cal Blue Star Moms, Horses of Warriors, and VFW Post 2922.
There was also a special guest speaker Josh Whitfield, Army veteran, who gave a very compelling and emotional speech about the importance of giving thanks and recognition to those who have served.
He told the story of the 13 brave souls that were killed at the last battle of Afghanistan during the evacuation process. He went into detail of the emotion of that day since he, too, was there during the evacuation.
“You see my friends it is not medals and decorations that make a hero, much less a warrior; it is the courage of these 13 brave young Americans, the courage of men and women who took action without hesitation, or consideration of their own self in defense of others, despite the death toll of that day, many hundreds more survived because of their actions,” Whitfield stated. “Are those not the very definition of American heroes?”
There were a handful of special certificates and introductions from dignitaries including Senator Andreas Borgeas, Assemblyman Heath Flora, District 1 Stanislaus County Supervisor Buck Condit and members of the Oakdale City Council alongside Mayor Cherilyn Bairos of Oakdale.
To close the ceremony, Troop 43 performed the process of retiring old, torn and tattered flags in a special flag burning ritual.
Lunch followed the closing and was provided through donations by Infinite Athletics, Oakdale Sunrise Rotary, Rodin Farms, Bloomingcamp Ranch, East Starbucks, Jaylene Ponce and Raley’s.