Your chance to tell Los Banos veterans, ‘Thanks!’ ... and get some pancakes

Los Banos FFA students carry a giant flag in 2017 Los Banos Veterans Parade
Los Banos FFA students carry a giant flag in 2017 Los Banos Veterans Parade Los Banos Enterprise

We’ll have an excellent opportunity to thank our veterans for their service on Nov. 3 when the Los Banos Veterans host the fifth Veterans Parade.

The Saturday event begins at 11 a.m., starting from the corner of Sixth and J streets to the Veterans Building on E Street near the Fairgrounds.

The Veterans of Foreign War Post 2487 and American Legion Post 166, acting together as Los Banos Veterans, will honor all military members.

In previous years, parades have honored the wars in which veterans served: World War II, Korean, Vietnam and Desert Storm. This year begins a new pattern of honoring each branch of the military beginning with the first branch formed, the Army.

In subsequent years, the parade will honor the other branches, based on when they came into existence – the Marines, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard.

“The Los Banos Veterans want to make it completely clear,” said Patricia McCoy, this year’s parade chairperson, “that the parade is to honor all veterans from all the branches. But in keeping with this year’s theme, we are especially inviting Army veterans to participate and have encouraged the schools’ parade entries to keep with the Army theme.”

As in previous years, the parade will be the Saturday before Veterans Day weekend, to avoid conflicts with other parades and celebrations on Nov. 11.

“The Los Banos Veterans are excited by the response from those interested in participating in the 2018 parade,” McCoy said. “We will have bands and student organizations from a majority if not, all of our schools – high schools, junior highs and elementary schools,” Patricia said, “and, as it has become tradition, a giant American flag will be carried by FFA students from both high schools.

“The parade will include veterans, current military personnel and military vehicles,” McCoy added. “Weather permitting, we will once again have the C-130 fly-over, which has become the envy of our neighboring cities.”

The goal of the Los Banos Veterans Parade is two-fold. “We want to give our community the opportunity to honor our local veterans by showing our appreciation and respect for them,” McCoy said.“ And we want to educate young people that freedom isn’t free; the men and women they see in this parade served their country so others could have the freedoms that they do today.”

Any veteran unable to walk the route can ride in one of several vehicles and, if weather permits, those vehicles might be convertibles that have been loaned for use in this parade.

Any veteran or family member or friend of a veteran who would like more information about the Los Banos Veterans Parade has time to connect with the parade’s organizers by calling Patricia (209 587-5033) or Mike Hughes (209 704-5301) or by sending an email to lbveteransparade@ gmail.com.

“These veterans went through some difficult times,” Hughes said. “They deserved to be honored.”

Before the parade, the community is invited to a pancake breakfast sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary from 7 to 10 a.m. at the VFW Hall (615 E St.) Tickets are $7; call Victoria Ferreira (209 710-8265) or any other auxiliary member to get one.

The parade is one of many activities Los Banos Veterans do to help the community. They also post American flags around town on holidays, provide local scholarships, help the Central Valley Honor Flights and support high school students who attend the yearly Boys State and Girls State conferences.

The Veterans group meets monthly and has an official meeting of the local American Legion post and an official meeting of the local post of the Veterans of Foreign Wars back to back. The group encourages all veterans to attend a meeting.

I hope many people come to the parade and breakfast to show their appreciation. And I hope many more Army veterans connect with Patricia McCoy or Mike Hughes. The selfless service to America given by all veterans needs to be recognized this year and every year.

John Spevak is a resident of Los Banos; he wrote this for the Los Banos Enterprise. Email john.spevak@gmail.com.