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Fanfare and Flags Featured in Stirring Longmont Veteran’s Day Tributes

November 10, 2018

Chief Petty Officer Gerald Kissinger carries the U.S. Navy Seabees flag in the Longmont Veterans Day parade under sunny skies saturday morning.

Fanfare filled the cool autumn air Saturday in downtown Longmont during this year’s annual Veteran’s Day parade.

Delighted children grasped for candy thrown from the passing marchers while other onlookers waited and waved at the slowly passing attractions.

Classic cars, military trucks and the Boy Scouts all made their way through.

The Corvette Association rolled out its best with a fleet of sleek cars, some of them labeled to show that a veteran was inside.

The Young Aviators of Colorado came through with a sign thanking veterans and the front end of a military plane, complete with turret on top, towed behind a truck.

A host of marching bands strutted their stuff, as well, including Niwot High School’s, outfitted in slick green suits and playing rousing renditions of patriotic songs.

A group of motorcyclists also made an appearance, revving their engines and winding their way down Main Street passing crowds of excited spectators.

Dick Swanson, who has lived in Longmont his whole life and grew up celebrating Armistice Day, said that he thought that the parade was a fitting tribute.

“I’m glad to see all of the bands and all of the folks,” he said. “I’m glad to see them supporting this parade.”

Lisa Skykula, a spectator and Longmont resident, said she liked the parade because she used to be in a marching band herself, and that the parade reminds her of her father, a Vietnam veteran who passed away last year.

“It was a great parade, such a big parade, it was almost an hour. It was amazing that we could dedicate all that time to them,” she said.

After the parade was over and all of the different groups filed down Longs Peak Avenue, people began to disperse.

But some veterans and their families gathered on the east side of Roosevelt Park for American Legion Post 32′s ceremony dedicated to honoring Vietnam era veterans.

As everyone arrived, the American flag, POW/MIA flag and the flags of each branch of the military fluttered in the breeze and music played softly over a small speaker.

Before beginning the ceremony in earnest, Gene Schiferl, an organizer of the event and Vietnam War veteran himself, led a singing of the national anthem.

And almost as if the flag recognized the tune, during the song a breeze picked up, swirling leaves into the air and standing the Stars and Stripes up to face the crowd, all of them singing with their hands over their hearts.

Each veteran then stood in line behind the flags of their respective branches of the military, and were called to receive pins and a message from the president to honor their service.

Joe Lopez, a veteran who served in North Vietnam during the war, was honored and received a pin during the service.

“It really feels good, after initially leaving Vietnam and coming here, this really feels great,” he said.

Schiferl, who dedicates a good amount of his time to making sure that Vietnam-era veterans are properly honored and thanked through these ceremonies, was happy that dozens of veterans got to receive pins Saturday.

“It was obvious that there were veterans that came to receive their pins that said a profound thank you,” he said.

“This is the first time they heard those words, and that’s why we’re here doing this today.”

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