Veterans Day: ‘Let us be thankful for their service’

Veteran and school Trustee Ray Rodriguez was in the parade.

American Legion Commander Joe Love, who served in Vietnam, oversaw the “Battlefield Cross” portion of the Veterans Day ceremony in downtown Hollister on Monday. It is a symbolic tradition replicated by soldiers on the battlefield where the rifle, helmet, boots and dog tags of a soldier killed in action are laid out, in the shape of a cross, on the spot where the soldier was killed. The tradition started during the Civll War and continues to this day.
“This battlefield cross means a lot to people,” Love said. “It’s a blank check the government signed to a soldier when we joined the military.”
Hundreds of county residents attended the ceremony at the Veterans Memorial Building on Monday. Sacred Heart Elementary students kicked it off with a flag routine to the patriotic song “God Bless The USA” by Lee Greenwood. After a prayer and the national anthem, veterans from America’s many wars, including Korean, Vietnam and the most recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, spoke.
“Wherever they were called into service, let us be thankful for their service,” said Dolly DeVasier, a member of the Ladies Auxiliary Post 9242 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Elaine Reyne, a Korean War veteran, said she had post-traumatic stress disorder after the war.
“I went through my life wondering what happy is,” she said, adding that she has now found happiness.
Chief of Police Dave Westrick spoke, calling the Battlefield Cross tradition “incredible” and saying he was “humbled” to be standing on the same stage as the veterans. He encouraged people to sign up for “Hollister Gives Back,” a community group that promotes giving back to the community. He said the members’ first endeavor was “Holiday Mail for Heroes,” which allows residents to send holiday cards to injured veterans during the Christmas holiday season.
County Supervisor Jerry Muenzer also spoke.
“Some were drafted. Some were volunteers,” he said about the veterans. “They all answered the call to serve.”
Another hero hailed during the ceremony was Wes Warren, a submarine cadet during World War II on the U.S.S. Jallao in the North Pacific. Warren was born a week after the armistice was signed during World War I, which ended that great conflict. Warren is 95 years old and raised 12 children.
A local father, Greg Harvey, spoke about his son, Joshua Harvey. He was a member of the Marines and was killed accidentally during a training session at a military training base in Beaumont, S.C., in 2008.
“He had found a home in the Marines,” he said.
As Harvey teared up at the memory of his son, he recalled the response from his son’s fellow Marines.
“The Marines were the greatest. It was amazing how much they cared,” he said.
Harvey said he now does 5K races and always wears his son’s dog tags while running. After he talked about his son, the room gave him a standing ovation.
“The one (story) that really touches you is the man whose son died,” said Tessie Pulido, one of the attendees.

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