BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — This land is the land of the free — and it’s all thanks to the brave men and women who have served our country.
The annual Veterans Day Parade was held Saturday morning in downtown Bakersfield, and hundreds of people from all walks of life gathered to honor those who’ve served.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for the whole community to come together and support veterans,” said resident Michael Davis.
The Veterans Day Parade in Bakersfield had more than 80 entries this year, including the Sons, Daughters and Children of the American Revolution.
“It’s coming together as a country, being patriotic, supporting our veterans, and just love of the country,” said Sophia Kaufman with the Children of the American Revolution.
“I’m playing the drum this year, so, I’m really excited,” said Sandra Gonzales with the Daughters of the American Revolution.
Hundreds of people gathered at the heart of the city to enjoy the sights, the sounds and the show of strength. Some carry a tune, others let their flags fly — and for Navy veteran Ralph Steele, the flag means something special.
“It means freedom for our country,” said Steele. “It’s great for kids to come out and see this, and see what America is really about, and the freedom we stand for, and I was proud to be in the Navy for 4 years, and I would do it again if I could.”
From one generation of heroes to the greatest generation comes World War II vet Bill Glaspie who served from 1943 to 1945. He’ll turn 100 next month, but the battle feels like yesterday.
“There were some pretty hard spots in there, you know,” said Glaspie. “They put you some place, and you have to duck a little bit, but it wasn’t all that bad. I was there 17 months, and never got a scratch.”
Glaspie said he was trained in the California desert for Africa, but plans changed. He was stationed in Europe, and his specialty was anti-aircraft warfare.
“The Germans send the planes up, we try and shoot them down,” said Glaspie.
For other residents, the parade brings remembrance of their loved ones — especially for Elvira Martinez, who came to the parade to honor her dad who was a Marine. He passed away in 2004.
“It means a lot to me, especially for the ones that made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom because it’s not free,” said Martinez.
This is what Veterans Day is all about — being grateful for the men and women, past and present, who have dedicated their lives for freedom, liberty, and justice for all, and of course, the candy for Esperanza Banuelos.
“I liked where they were throwing candy,” said Banuelos.
Bakersfield’s annual Veterans Day Parade has come and gone, but the spirit of our country lives on.