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Veterans Day celebrated Bandera style

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Posted: Wednesday, November 15, 2017 12:00 pm

An intermittent drizzle could not dampen the enthusiasm of visitors to the 14th annual Bandera Honors Veterans  celebration on Veterans Day, Saturday, Nov. 11.

The event, held in front of the Bandera County Courthouse, was a traditional Hill Country “thank you” to veterans local, regional and everywhere.

Events included patriotic speeches and music featuring bagpipes and drums, the introduction of veterans from various wars and military actions, a parade, and a veterans and spouses barbecue.

Families also set up tables outside the courthouse to show photos of family members who served in the military over generations.

Bandera County is home to an estimated 3,200-3,300 veterans, or about 15 percent of the population of 21,800 residents, based on the 2016 Census.

That is a higher percentage than many neighboring counties with larger populations, said retired U.S. Army Col. Dennis Birchall, who serves as the Bandera County Veterans Service Officer and commander of Bandera America Legion Post 157.

“Texas has the second largest number of veterans after California. The normal number of veterans in other counties, especially large ones, is under 10 percent. You will not find a more patriotic place than a small town like Bandera as you can see by this event,” Birchall said.

Guest speaker and Bandera resident First Sgt. Ret. Michael Bankston talked about the importance of veterans every day of the year, not just on Nov. 11.

“My heroes are not football players or basketball players. My heroes are veterans like you,” Bankston said pointing to a group of veterans, including two, World War II veterans from Bandera County, one 92 and the other 102.

 They were among the veterans who rode in the parade on flatbed trailers.

Bandera County Judge Richard Evans said honoring veterans on Nov. 11 is a chance for the community to demonstrate its respect for them.

“Sometimes we the forget reason we have our country and our freedoms. It is because of veterans, and we need to thank them every chance we get, not just one day a year,” the judge said.

Families with children ranging from elementary school-aged to high school-aged lined Main Street under umbrellas for the parade. Several parents said they brought their children to teach them about the example of service and love of country that our veterans demonstrate.

Local veterans at the Saturday event could not stop smiling.

Among them were Fidel Ramirez and J.M Clements, who were seated on one of the flatbed trucks before the parade.

Ramirez, who served in the Navy during the Korean War, and Clements, who was in the Air Force from 1966-1970, said it was a wonderful feeling to be part of a community celebration and to know their friends and neighbors care.

“I would be here if it was a downpour of rain,” Clements said.

Pat Downing, a former commander of the Bandera American Legion and a Navy veteran from 1961-1963, was one of several female veterans who took part in the celebration.

“As a veteran, I can tell you this was very successful and shows the spirit of Bandera, a small town with a big heart, where we care about each other,” Downing said.

Officials with the event thanked area businesses, service organizations, families and the city and county whose contributions made the celebration possible.

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1 comment:

  • Cerise Ripps posted at 6:17 pm on Thu, Nov 16, 2017.

    Cerise Ripps Posts: 1

    I would like to thank Bandera Sound Company for once again providing the sound system for the parade. Tooter Ripps does this every year at no charge for the local veterans as his way of honoring his own father, a veteran, but acknowledgement and thanks from the parade organizers would also have been nice.

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