Hundreds of community members came to the Craneway Pavilion on Friday to pay homage to past, present and future military members during a heartfelt ceremony.
The Salute to Veterans event, sponsored by Chevron Richmond, included historic exhibits, the swearing-in ceremony of new Army members, story-telling about Richmond’s rich history of supporting the WWII effort, particularly through its shipbuilding efforts, and an extensive Veterans Expo, which highlighted the vast variety of resources to local veterans, from workforce development to general support.
For entertainment, guests enjoyed a war-time medley of songs performed by the Swingin’ Blue Stars, a group of mothers that formed when their sons were serving. Guests were treated to a delicious lunch courtesy of GDC Kitchen.
Veterans present participated in wars ranging from WWII and Korea to Iraq. There was also original Rosie the Riveters, some of the millions of women who assumed jobs traditionally held by men during WWII to help fuel the war effort.
“Isn’t it appropriate that we are here, in the Ford building, a building at a site that played an important role in winning WWII. And we are in this building to honor veterans,” Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia said at the event. “And I am especially pleased that this event has been coupled with a resource fair.”
Richmond Mayor Tom Butt, himself a Vietnam veteran, City Manager Bill Lindsay and representatives of numerous local organizations and businesses, including Chevron, attended to pay their respects.
“We have close to 500 veterans who currently work at the Refinery,” said Kory Judd, general manager of the Chevron Richmond Refinery. “We’re very proud of that. And every time we have a new incoming class at our Refinery of operators and mechanics, veterans go to the front of the line and they’re guaranteed an interview.”
Veterans are “ordinary people…they respond always in extraordinary ways in very extreme times,” Judd said.
“They want to protect our nation; it’s given them much and they’ve given us much,” the Refinery’s general manager added. “I appreciate their great service.”