Friday, 12 July 2024

County honors veterans in Tuesday celebration

Frank Parker received the Veteran of the Year Award from Capt. Woody Hughes of the United Veterans Council on Tuesday, November 11, 2008. Photo by Harold LaBonte.

LAKEPORT – At 11 a.m. Tuesday, approximately 90 years after the armistice was signed to cease World War I – “the war to end all wars” that almost wiped out a generation of young men in Europe – Lake County residents came together to remember not just that war so long ago, but to recall the service of millions of veterans in all of the nation's wars.

The Lake County Veterans Day Ceremony and Celebration was held at the Little Theater at the Lake County Fairgrounds on Martin Street.


The Sea Scouts Color Guard posted the flags and the Lake County United Veterans Council Military Funeral Honors Team was on hand to provide the rifle volley at the ceremony's end. Emily Barker, former Miss Lake County, sang the national anthem, the Clear Lake High School Band was on hand to play wartime favorites and United Veterans Council Chaplain Capt. Woody Hughes offered the opening prayer.

Bob Penny, Lake County's assistant veterans service officer, opened the event, and welcomed to the stage his boss, Jim Brown, who leads the Veterans Service Office, which works to get local veterans their benefits.

Brown thanked local veterans for their service. “We are in debt to our veterans,” Brown said. “All veterans have sacrificed part of their lives during war and peace.”

He, in turn, then welcomed Brad Onorato, district representative for Congressman Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena).




Brad Onorato, district representative for Congressman Mike Thompson, spoke at the Tuesday ceremony. Photo by Harold LaBonte.



Thompson, Onorato explained, is currently in Afghanistan with the troops and so couldn't attend the Tuesday ceremony.

Onorato discussed the history of Veterans Day, beginning in World War I, and explained how that in 1958 President Dwight Eisenhower signed legislation to create the holiday.

“We should never forget our veterans' sacrifices,” said Onorato, noting that there are about 8,000 veterans in Lake County alone, and nearly 24 million nationwide.

He pointed to important recent developments for service members, including a 3.9-percent pay raise for active military and a new GI Bill to increase college funding for soldiers returning from service. There also have been increases in personnel to help returning military personnel with health and injury issues.

Thompson, himself a Vietnam vet, has worked on behalf of military members and veterans to help bring about these changes, Onorato noted.

Regarding the current situation in Iraq and the effort to bring home US soldiers, Onorato noted, “We must make sure that when we do bring them home they will be treated with respect.”

As Onorato left the stage two dozen 4-H Club members distributed handmade thank you cards to all the veterans in the room.

One of the cards read: "Dear Veteran, I wake up each morning free to make choices because of the sacrifices you have made. You have our gratitude." It was written by 9-year-old Jared Smith and delivered to his grandfather, Korean War-era veteran Milton Heath.




Milton Health and his grandson, Jared Smith. Photo by Harold LaBonte.



Near the closing of the ceremony, Capt. Hughes surprised Lucerne resident and United Veterans Council member Frank Parker with the Veteran of the Year Award. Parker received a standing ovation along with the award, which is topped by a golden eagle.

At the closing, the Military Funeral Honors Team fired a rifle volley, which was accompanied by the playing of “Taps.”

Following the solemn event the community and its veterans sat down together to enjoy the annual barbecue that rounds out the morning ceremony.

E-mail Harold LaBonte at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



The United Veterans Council Military Funeral Honors Team waited outside the event to conduct their rifle volley. Photo by Harold LaBonte.









More than 100 people attended the Tuesday ceremony, which was followed by a barbecue. Photo by Harold LaBonte.





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