New Veterans Appreciation Day event to be held May 16 at fairgrounds in Yreka

Dennis Taylor
This 1962 UH-1B helicopter that has been restored by the Veterans Historical Association, Inc. headquartered in Redding, will be on display May 16 in Yreka as part of a Veterans Appreciation Day event. The Huey, according to the website, was previously owned by an Arkansas hospital and through research of the serial number was discovered to have originally belonged to the U.S. Air Force and utilized at a missile site.

May is a busy month for American veterans. Both Armed Forces Day and, of course, Memorial Day happen in May. But in Siskiyou County for the first time the difference between the two events will become much clearer for county residents thanks to some brainstorming ideas from Mike Noda, Tom Arnold and Siskiyou Veterans Services Officer Tim Grenvik.

“If you want to thank our vets then Memorial Day is the day to do it,” Grenvik said. “Memorial Day is for those that have gone on but Armed Forces Day will be a day to inform vets of practical things that are there for them now.”

The brainstorming idea began to take shape two months ago when it was decided that the best way to inform county vets about services available was to have a Siskiyou County Veterans Appreciation Day on Armed Forces Day which is Saturday May 16. In order to do that as effectively as possible Grenvik reached out to as many service organizations as he could. The result was to combine pageantry and practicality in one event and then to make sure all vets could attend by providing transportation to and from the event as well as free breakfast and lunch.

Grenvik got a sizable participation from organizations like the City of Yreka, Human Services, UC Davis, VA Northern California Health Care, Siskiyou Ministerial Association, Siskiyou VFW Posts and Madrone Hospice. The practical aspect of the county’s first Veterans Appreciation Day will be booths sponsored by various veteran and service organizations that offer things like healthcare options and help with heating costs.

One booth, called Horses for Heroes, which is horse therapy for vets, will include someone in the booth to explain their program.

The Redding Outpatient Clinic/VA Clinic of Northern California will have a doctor on hand to talk to vets about a new clinic that will be opening in Yreka in the near future, and the VA in White City, Ore., will also have a booth to answer eligibility and other questions for local vets.

On the pageantry side of the day’s agenda will be the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors starting the ceremony off followed by the Marine Corps League, which will do colors along with American Legion Post #260 from Etna. Both organizations do honors at veteran funerals in the county.

The Young Marines of Northern Calif. and Southern Oregon will do the Pledge of Allegiance as well as a drill team presentation. That part of the day’s events will be capped off with a seven-man rifle volley and the echo playing of Taps, which Grenvik says, “will bring tears to your eyes.”

To finish off in true military style Grenvik is hoping to have a fly-over just as Taps is being played. Barbara Ward, Deputy Director of the Women’s Veteran’s Affairs of California, will be the keynote speaker and Marge Wheeler of Mount Shasta, a Vietnam veteran and nurse, will provide musical entertainment along with the local band Rockit who will also be performing at lunch and to end the day’s events.

It all takes place at the Siskiyou County Fairgrounds.

“It was only two months ago we came up with this idea. Our plan is to turn this into an annual event and we have a year to plan it,” Grenvik said.