City shows gratitude to veterans

Annual veterans recognition event celebrated through speeches, music

Retired U.S. Army Col. William H. Snow talks about his military service and the work of the armed forces during a speech at the Veterans Day ceremony at Palo Alto City Hall on Nov. 5, 2018. Photo by Veronica Weber.

At just 18 years old, William H. Snow -- who spent his entire life in a small town -- left his ordinary life in the United States in 1975 to serve in Korea as a member of the U.S. Army for 13 months. He bloomed into adulthood in the middle of tense conflicts, some of which were deadly, that unraveled at the Korean Demilitarized Zone, a no man's land established after the Korean War.

He also took part in Operation Paul Banyan, a show-of-force operation by the American and South Korean forces in response to the killing of two U.S. soldiers in the zone by North Korean soldiers in 1976.

"We thought we would go to war again. But it cooled down," Snow, chair of Palo Alto University's counseling program, shared in an interview with the Weekly.

Snow told his story as the sun set on grassy King Plaza in front of Palo Alto City Hall on Monday afternoon before a few dozen people gathered for the city's annual Veterans Day ceremony. Now in its fourth year, the event kicked off with introductory remarks from Mayor Liz Kniss and the Palo Alto Police Department Honor Guard carrying flags as part of its presentation of colors. The 10th Avenue Band livened up the event, playing the "Armed Forces Salute" as veterans and current military members proudly stood to the audience's applause when their branch of service's tune was played.

In his speech as this year's guest speaker, Snow discussed the intersection between the military and education.

He said when the GI Bill was signed in 1944, some educators were afraid of how former soldiers would perform in higher education. In the following years, however, the most "ambitious educational experiment in American history" was dubbed "the best class the country has ever produced," Snow quoted from articles published at the time in Time and Fortune magazines, respectively.

"These veterans did actually pretty well. The military teaches that you can accomplish a lot more than you can think about," Snow said to the audience.

He returned to the U.S. from Korea to obtain his bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees in social welfare. His self-doubts of being able to thrive in higher education were long gone after serving in the Army. His time in the military put him and his fellow soldiers through many challenging tasks, such as operating equipment worth millions of dollars, taking the military skill test and sleeping on dirt.

After graduating with his doctorate from the University of Washington, he would go on to serve in the Army for another 26 years from 1988 to 2014, becoming a recipient of 21 federal state ribbons and medals.

Snow, in his remarks, also discussed the growing veteran population from the Gulf War, and shared "seven positive veteran attitudes," which spoke on important values veterans live by, such as trust, loyalty, teamwork, great leadership, timeliness and gratitude.

"I encourage you to honor them. ... Please no sympathy, just gratitude," Snow said.

The event also featured the creators of the Veterans Day 2017 Collaborative Comic Book Project -- Danièle Archambault, Paloma Lucas and Servane Briand -- who presented a special gift to veterans. Within a large container embellished with a handwritten message "Thank You For Your Service" were three books titled "Stories," "Memories" and "Imageries" that contained 90 pages of messages for veterans from members of the community of all ages.

One of the pages, created by writer Lydia Kim Soong, is titled "What Veterans mean to me." She shared the story of her grandparents, North Korean refugees who fled with their young child before borders closed.

Along with three illustrations drawn in pen, her message states, "Although the war was dire at times, the U.S. & U.N. armies prevailed... making South Korea the free democracy it is today. Thank you U.S. veterans for giving us our freedom."

Another illustration is dedicated to Palo Alto resident Alan Nichols, a 1914 Paly alumnus who died in France from injuries in an air battle four years after graduation. For one of the creators of the comic book project, Nichols' story felt personal as her son graduated from the high school in 2014, exactly 100 years after Nichols.

The 10th Avenue Band rounded out the program by playing "Stars and Stripes Forever," upholding the patriotic mood of the ceremony.

The stories and messages resonated with Redwood City resident Albert Lobo.

"It's a nice event to honor all the veterans, and it encourages future, younger generations to serve in the military," said Lobo, who was worked as an electrician's mate second-class on the USS Fort McHenry from 1986 to 1990. "It's nice to share all the stories."


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10 people like this
Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 6, 2018 at 2:07 pm

How come the City did not provide any notice to the residents so that those veterans who would like to have attended this ceremony could have?

There are a lot of notices for other events on the City's web-site, but nothing for this event.

13 people like this
Posted by Army Vet
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Nov 6, 2018 at 3:22 pm

Nothing like celebrating Veterans Day a week before Veterans Day and not telling veterans about it. It amounts to nothing but a dog and pony show. And how many veterans actually live and work in Palo Alto?

6 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of University South
on Nov 6, 2018 at 3:45 pm

Karen Holman launches this event in 2015 when she was mayor. The city and the VA were really engaged with it and it was well publicized that year and it 2016. Unfortunately, the last two years the mayors have not made it a priority.

3 people like this
Posted by Which Ones to Commemorate?
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 6, 2018 at 6:17 pm

Whenever I think of Veteran's Day, I am reminded of Armistice Day and its subsequent name change to honor those Americans who served from World War I and onwards.

Curious. Are other American wars covered under Veteran's Day? The Civil War would be questionable from the standpoint of the Confederacy (slavery), The Indian wars (genocide), The Spanish-American War (imperialism), Mexican War (expansionism) etc.

I don't ever recall the American Revolution and War of 1812 being mentioned alongside Veteran's Day. Maybe July 4th covers the Revolution and 1812 written off as a stalemate of sorts.

Like this comment
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 8, 2018 at 11:05 am

Annette is a registered user.

Is there anything planned for Veteran's Day which is this Sunday, November 11?

Like this comment
Posted by Christine Lee
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 8, 2018 at 11:33 am

Christine Lee is a registered user.

@Annette, here are some planned Veteran's Day events from our community calendar:

Veterans Day Celebration in Redwood City -
Web Link

100th Anniversary of the End of World War I -
Web Link

Camp Fremont - 100 Year Centennial Celebration -
Web Link

2 people like this
Posted by Limited Acknowledgments
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 8, 2018 at 1:51 pm

> Curious. Are other American wars covered under Veteran's Day? The Civil War would be questionable from the standpoint of the Confederacy (slavery), The Indian wars (genocide), The Spanish-American War (imperialism), Mexican War (expansionism) etc.

Those don't count. Too long ago for holiday referencing.

Only wars where there were at least 48+ stars on the flag apply.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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