BRAZORIA — Brazoria County’s annual Veterans Day celebration serves three equally important purposes, according to those being celebrated.
The parade and festivities get veterans who haven’t seen each other in years together to visit, celebrate the service of veterans present and past, and educate the next generation.
“Brazoria County is probably the best county in the state of Texas for supporting their veterans,” said Roy Averett, an Army veteran and captain of the Brazoria County Combined Honor Guard.
Averett served as “backup” in Germany during the Vietnam War era, he said, adding that veterans returning from war then were treated extremely harshly. Vietnam veterans appreciate the respect they get now, Averett said, adding that it’s important for the younger generation to know what the armed forces went through.
“We don’t want history to repeat itself,” he said. “We don’t want another Vietnam.”
Luis Ledesma, a Navy veteran who served on the USS Dubuque during the Vietnam area, also appreciates the respect the community gives them now, he said.
Ledesma, a member of American Legion Post 503, did not participate in the parade Monday because he had just returned from Europe, he said. There, he stood on D-Day landing site Omaha Beach and became emotional thinking about the sacrifices so many Americans made there, Ledesma said.
That experience made Veterans Day extra special this year, he said.
“To me, it’s just very important to honor every veteran,” Ledesma said.
And veterans of all places, branches and ages showed up to do so Monday.
Tarver Snedecor, 86, is a U.S. Army veteran who served in Korea shortly after the war. He heard he was one of the oldest veterans to check-in at the program at Brazoria Heritage Foundation on Monday, he said, and he attended because he wanted to celebrate the holiday.
Lloyd Connick, 92, was among the oldest Army veterans at Monday’s events.
“I always come out on Veterans Day to see the old buddies I haven’t seen all year,” Connick said.
It’s always nice to see people come out and honor the young men who went through so much with so little, he said.
There are plenty of organizations and activities that continue to keep local veterans together, like Korean War Navy veteran John Shelby’s electric guitar playing, he said. He played guitar overseas and still does with his band, Boogie Beats, for the Veterans of Foreign Wars post 8551.
The holiday gives veterans the opportunity to remember everything they did for the military beyond combat. Rocky Martinez, a veteran who served during the Cold War era processing passports at the American Consulate, played baseball for the Army, he said.
Veterans Day gives veterans like Martinez some recognition since many people overlook the Cold War, he said. But with the Cuban Missile Crisis, the collapse of the Berlin Wall and President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, there was a necessity for Americans to serve in the military during that time, he said.
There is also reason to serve at home, exemplified by Frank Dietz, a 22-year Coast Guard veteran. He served in Hawaii, Cuba and at Surfside Beach after Hurricane Alicia.
Veterans Day and its events help “to show young people that there were a lot of people who went to serve to allow them to grow up in a free society,” Dietz said.
Matthew Traynor, a junior at Brazoswood High School in the Air Force Junior ROTC, is one of the young people who understands the relevance.
“It’s important to me because a lot of my family are veterans and I know what it means to them,” Traynor said. “It’s all to do with respect.”
Veterans definitely deserve at least one day to recognize everything they’ve done, he said, adding that it was great to see how many people showed up.