The shots rang out from a trio of Civil War cannons provided by American Civil War Association member Richard Lawrence and a cadre of re-enactors. The explosions, reportedly heard as far away as downtown Brentwood, punctuated the largest Veterans Day event yet in Veterans Park.
Mayor Bob Taylor thanked the large crowd for braving a cold drizzle and said they represented a cross-section of what’s good about America. He drew a round of applause by suggesting that anyone not appreciating the freedom that veterans had provided were free to leave. “And there’s a few of us out here that would be happy to help you pack your bags,” he added.
Those who stayed – everyone – heard a trio of veterans describe what their service had meant to them. Coast Guard Commander Sean Kelly, Sr. (of the VFW); Cmdr. Mike Clement (American Legion) and Commandant Don Hester (Marine Corps League) offered their perspectives.
Kelly said his own appreciation for veterans came early in life, when he attended a Veterans Day Parade. “I saw all these older guys in funny hats in the parade,” he said. “Everybody clapped when they went by, so I knew they were important men.”
The event, a cooperative effort of American Legion Post 202, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10789, Marine Corps League Detachment 1155 and the Brentwood Parks and Recreation Department, also featured members of the Mt. Diablo High School Junior ROTC, who demonstrated their skill drilling with rifles.
Music was provided by the Heritage High School Wind Ensemble and buglers. County Supervisor Mary Piepho, state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier and City Councilman Steve Barr were also on hand.
“It’s getting bigger every year, and that’s great,” said Donna Park, who attended with her son Robbie, 4. “I hope more people find out about it for next year. If they keep shooting off cannons like that, they will.”