Elk Grove celebrated it’s 19th annual Veterans Day Parade this past Monday on Veterans Day. Veterans were honored, celebrated and acknowledged by Elk Grovians and surrounding cities on this special day. Veterans Day is a national holiday and a day that we, as Americans, pay tribute to our country’s heroes. Most of these heroes live quietly amongst us, not expecting anything in return for their lives and time that they have sacrificed for us. This is the day we recognize and salute them for their intense bravery and wholehearted selflessness, so that we can all enjoy the freedoms we have in America.
Elk Grove was honored to pay tribute to our veterans on this 19th year of celebrating with a grand parade, sponsored by the American Legion Post 233. This year typically would have been the 20th year of the parade, but due to the poor air quality this time last year from the Paradise fires, Elk Grove had to cancel last year’s event.
Hundreds of Elk Grovians and surrounding towns attended the opening ceremony that commenced at 10am in the parking lot of the Elk Grove Shopping Center on Elk Grove-Florin Road. The parade started at 11am and ended at the Elk Grove Regional Park with a picnic for all who participated. Hot dogs, chips and sodas were served to veterans and participants. Later that evening, the American Legion Post 233 held a dinner party for all veterans at the Elk’s Lodge.
The History of Veterans Day
The Veterans Day Parade in Elk Grove was intentionally scheduled at 11:00 am on 11-11-19, as November 11 marks the day that our country remembers the end of World War 1.
Veterans Day was formerly known as Armistice Day which was made official on November 11, 1918. Armistice Day was commemorated every year on November 11 to mark the armistice that was signed between the Allies of World War 1 and Germany at Compeiegne, France for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front of World War 1, which took effect at 11 o’clock in the morning , the eleventh hour of the eleventh month of 1918.
In 1954, at the urging of U.S. veterans organizations, Armistice Day was renamed Veterans Day which celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans. This became a day to honor all American veterans of all wars. Veterans Day gives Americans the opportunity to celebrate the bravery and sacrifice of all U.S. veterans throughout history.
Our Local Heroes from World War 2
Elk Grovians were especially honored to be in the presence of some of our World War 2 heroes. These are the men and women who fought and survived the war, and live to tell their personal stories, filled with horrifying details, that only a brave soul could endure.
Ernie Costa, Maureen Gabriel, Leonard Kovar, Don Gut and Sadie Moles (in photos below) are some of our local heroes from World War 2, the global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945.
Ernie Costa served as a U.S. Navy Coastguard for 38 years. During World War 2, his ship was torpedoed into the Atlantic Ocean. Ernie survived the freezing temperatures of the Atlantic for a terrifying period of 10 minutes until he was rescued. 10 more of minutes of being in this part of the ocean would have been deadly, but Ernie survived to tell his stories of fighting for America’s freedom.
Maureen Gabriel, a Navy veteran was stationed at the San Francisco Navy Shipyard in 1946 during World War 2. Maureen is a 31 year Elk Grove resident and turned 100 years old this year. She and fellow veteran Elena Gamboa were appointed Grand Marshall at the parade.
Leonard Kovar, a 97 year old veteran, was a prisoner of war in Germany during World War 2. His army air force plane was shot down from 27,000 feet into a forest of enemy territory. For 3 days, Leonard evaded the Germans until he was captured and then became a prisoner of war for 3 months. He has written a book, currently sold on Amazon, called “Prisoner of War, How I Survived” where he depicts a detailed account of his terrifying journey and brave survival through his compelling saga as a prisoner of war in Nazi Germany.
Navy veteran Don Gut fought in World War 2. He was in charge of shooting the torpedoes aboard his ship to fight against the German submarines. Don is An Elk Grove resident who generously shares his personal stories of the war and on being a proud American soldier.
Sadie Moles was born a prisoner of war in World War 2 in the Santa Tomas Internment Camp in the Philippines. This camp is also known as the Manila Internment Camp, which was the largest of all camps in the Philippines, in which the Japanese interned enemy civilians, mostly Americans. Sadie lives to tell of her personal story and experience as a prisoner of war baby in World War 2.
The Veterans Parade
The opening ceremony began with the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem, followed by speeches honoring all our veterans. Maureen Gabriel and Elena Gamboa were appointed Grand Marshalls and were recognized as our brave women veterans. The parade began with cars from the 1930’s to the 1960’s decorated with America flags and American pride. Veterans and their families drove in open convertibles waving out to large crowds, who gathered all over the sidewalks of Elk Grove-Florin in eager anticipation to see our heroes and heroines in person. Elk Grove’s school marching bands performed and entertained the crowds, as they marched in the parade. Consumnes Oaks High, Pleasant Grove High, Franklin High, Valley High were among the many excellent marching bands who participated. Boys Scout troops and Girl Scout troops supported and participated, along with other organizations such as the American Legion Auxiliary Club. Elk Grove’s mayor Steve Ly walked the parade, took photos with veterans and passed out flags to the public. This was a day for veterans to take pride in all that they have done for our country and a day for all Americans to express gratitude to our veterans. The Veterans Day Parade in Elk Grove was a day for everyone in the community to celebrate and be celebrated.