Town Square

Remember Those Who Served this July 4th

Original post made by Mark Curtis, Danville, on Jul 4, 2009

(Danville, California)

Happy 4th of July! For the third straight year I had the honor of being one of the official announcers for the Town of Danville parade, hosted by the Kiwanis of the San Ramon Valley. A crowd estimated at 50,000 turned out, and the weather was beautiful.

No one in the parade received more cheers than our military veterans, which is as it should be. For 233 years our military have defended the independence and freedom we celebrate today.

My announcing position was on the steps of the local Veterans Memorial Hall, which is going to undergo a much needed renovation soon, preserving the building for generations to come.

Seated out front today and selling flags were two local veterans. On the left in the photo is Rear Admiral Russ Gorman, USN (Ret.), and on the right is Aviation Cadet Herb Johnson, USAF (Ret.). Admiral Gorman has been my friend and adviser for many years. Since I never served in the military--but often need that knowledge as a reporter--Gorman has always been my "go to" guy for expertise. His knowledge is encyclopedic, and he has introduced me to more active duty and retired military personnel than I could ever count. He's a community treasure!

I also had the honor today of having lunch with Sgt. Manny Mendoza, who lost both legs in the Iraq War. Manny relocated here as one of the "Sentinels of Freedom." That is an organization based in the San Ramon Valley that helps wounded U.S. troops assimilate back into civilian life. "Sentinels" provides college scholarships, job training, employment, housing, transportation and moral support. For more information see Its CEO, Mike Conklin, has spearheaded a much needed organization to support our wounded troops.

The parade also featured Bill Smith, President of the Walnut Creek Chapter of the Pearl Harbor Survivors. Smith served on the U.S.S. California. There were twenty-eight men in his battle station the day of the Pearl Harbor attack, but only three survived. Many of our Pearl Harbor veterans are dying, and someday soon all will be gone. I was thrilled to see a unit in today's parade called "The Sons and Daughters of Pearl Harbor." Its members carry on the legacy of their parents, so that this nation will never forget that day.

Cheers to the Kiwanis of the San Ramon Valley for once again putting on a first-class parade. Happy 4th everyone!

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