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Kern County veterans discuss what Veterans' Day means to them

Kern County celebrates Veterans Day
Posted at 3:46 PM, Nov 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-10 17:41:12-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Thursday is Veterans Day, which serves as a moment of reflection and gratitude for those who served in the Marines, Army, Navy, Coast Guard, and Air Force. This year, there will be several events across Kern honoring those who served.

For one local Vietnam veteran, this day has always carried mixed emotions.

“I never did go to a veterans day parade or anything like that. You just hunker down, do your job and live your life,” said James Burroughs, a Vietnam Veteran.

Burroughs served in 1964 but when he returned home a year later, he said he saw his fellow servicemen abused.

“I still had memories of coming home and watching veterans getting eggs thrown on them and spit on,” said Burroughs.

With that memory still fresh in his mind, Burroughs said he was hesitant to go to anything like a Veterans Day Parade. But after lots of time went by, he was convinced to go. However, it wasn’t until two years ago that he attended his very first Veterans Day Parade in Kern County.

“I know like the first time I was really reluctant, but it made a difference,” said Burroughs.

That is why parade coordinator and fellow veteran Ricardo Ybarra said events like these are so important.

“We have to honor all the people that have served our nation and whatever branch of the service they served in. I myself went in at 17 and came out when I was 38,” said Ybarra.

Ybarra said he is grateful they can have a parade in person this year after last year was virtual.

“We have a lot of people putting together floats. We have equestrian units. We have car clubs. We have a variety of units that will participate this year,” said Ybarra.

Burroughs said that it’s important to acknowledge the sacrifice, and he’s glad there is this moment of reflection.

“I think it's just important to pause for a day you know? Like I heard on TV a few days ago we have Memorial Day to honor our fallen veterans. We have Veterans Day to honor our living veterans,” said Burroughs.

Burroughs said to veterans who never went to a parade like himself that they should push themselves to go. He said he is grateful for how Kern County treats its veterans and can’t wait for the parade this Thursday.

Bakersfield Veterans Day Parade Route:

2021 Bakersfield Veterans Day Parade Route