Veterans thanked at two Roseville events
Before making her keynote speech during the Veterans Day service at Roseville Veterans Memorial Hall Friday, Col. Rene Horton paused a moment to look around the room.
In the audience of about 200 people were some 40 U.S. veterans and their families.
“I’m in awe,” Horton said. “I just want to take a look at the crowd because, wow. I am honored to be here … The heroes are the ones I’m looking at in the audience right now.”
Horton, of the California National Guard, spoke as part of the annual event hosted by American Legion Post 169 and Veterans of Foreign Affairs Post 1487 to honor members of the armed forces.
The National Guard is a reserve military service that may be called up for active duty, or to respond to domestic emergencies and disasters.
More than half of the National Guard are combat veterans, and the branch has deployed 35,000 service members around the world in the fight against terrorism, Horton said.
In 2003, Horton was deployed to the Middle East during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Upon her arrival, she encountered a young soldier from the 3rd infantry division who was bruised and battered. She shook the man’s hand, thanked him for a job well done and walked away.
A few minutes later, he tracked her down.
“He said, ‘Ma’am, I just wanted to let you know how much that meant to me. That’s all I wanted to hear from anybody, was thank you,’” Horton said, eliciting a standing ovation from the crowd.
Roseville Mayor Pauline Roccucci implored the audience to support organizations that provide services to returning veterans to meet their physical, mental, housing and job needs.
Sen. Ted Gaines told a story about when his father, a World War II veteran, was thanked by a stranger in Yosemite.
“We often, especially as civilians, forget how important that is,” Gaines said.
Congressmen Tom McClintock remarked on a 21-year-old who was killed in Afghanistan on Sept. 26 in his congressional district.
“We set aside this day so (veterans) know how their countrymen feel about them,” McClintock said.
On Friday afternoon, the city of Roseville, Roseville Historical Society and SureWest Foundation hosted a smaller Veterans Day gathering in front of the WWII monument downtown.
“In this day of an all-volunteer military, why do men and women still answer the call of duty?” asked Capt. Roger Linn of the U.S. Navy.
They do so, he said, because they believe in serving their country.
Master of Ceremonies John Piches talked about serving for 13 months in the South Pacific during World War II.
“I never thought I’d go home, until Harry dropped that bomb,” he said, referring to President Truman ordering the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.
During the ceremony, council members, the mayor and other community members commemorated each branch of the military — the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and the Coast Guard and Merchant Marines.
Roccucci thanked the veterans and commented on how her father served in the Army. She urged attendees to also thank the families of war veterans.
“Because when someone goes to war, the whole family goes,” she said.
Sena Christian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at SenaC_RsvPT.
For more photos of the local Veterans Day events, see the "Veterans Day in Roseville" photo gallery.