Ridgecrest to show its true colors

‘Hats off, the flags are passing by’

Ridgecrest to show its true colorsOn Saturday, Sept. 5, the city will be adorned in red, white and blue as more than 1,000 American flags are paraded through our main thoroughfares.

Ridgecrest Exchange Club and the Naval Air Weapons Station are joining forces to commemorate the 14th anniversary of the 9-11 tragedy with the 12th annual Remembrance Field.

In what has become a signature event for the city, the eighth annual parade will feature U.S. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy as the grand marshal, along with city and Navy dignitaries, emergency service personnel, an honor guard of veterans and hundreds of residents proudly participating in the patriotic display.

“We are so excited to have representation from the highest offices of the land this year,” said Pat Farris, parade chair. She noted that McCarthy will serve as both grand marshal and keynote speaker.

“The spectacular flag procession will be led by the Burroughs High School Band, under the direction of Simon Austin, whose award-winning sounds will set the tone for the dramatic sight.”

Following the three-quarter mile march down China Lake Boule-vard, bearers will post their flags on the luscious grassy knolls at Freedom Park behind City Hall to the stirring sounds of “Amazing Grace,” played on the bagpipes by Chris Carson.

Once the flags have been planted, the flagbearers will become a choir of 1,000 voices, singing “God Bless America.”

The display will remain through Sept. 11 in memory of the first responders and civilians who lost their lives in the fateful 9-11 attacks.

“That day changed our lives forever,” said Farris. “Many of our youth will not remember those attacks, but their participation in this event makes them aware of the costs of freedom.”

This year will include the traditional wall of heroes that honors the military veterans who have served our country.

As a special tribute this year, the Patriot Guard Riders will bring the “Remembering Our Fallen” traveling memorial wall to Ridgecrest. The wall will arrive on Aug. 31 and will be displayed for two weeks to honor the men and women who have given their lives in military service since Sept. 11, 2001.

Kern County 1st District Supervisor Mick Gleason, who has served as parade commander since its inception, defines Ridgecrest as “the most patriotic city in America.”

“With the sense of pride and spirit of patriotism that captures our community during this event, that title seems most fitting,” said Farris.

When Gleason first got involved with the parade, he was serving as commanding officer of the Naval Air Weapons Station, China Lake.

The legacy of Navy involvement continues this year with the inclusion of Capt. Rich Wiley, NAWS commanding officer, who is helping lead the motorcade for this year’s parade.

The highlight of the weeklong observance is the Friday, Sept. 11, candlelight vigil, which honors the first responders who were among the thousands of casualties following the attacks. The Kern County Fire Depart-ment will lead a “last call” ceremony in memory of fallen brothers and sisters.

Those marching in the parade will stage at the Sierra Lanes parking lot. Farris said that anyone interested in becoming a team captain to coordinate a row of 10 bearers should call her at 760-371-4301.

“It’s never too late to join the parade,” said Farris. “We will include latecomers even on the morning of the event.”

Pictured: Residents show their patriotic spirit in a previous parade. -- Photo by Laura Austin

Story First Published: 2015-08-28