The Stockton Fourth of July parade and the Fourth of July celebration at Lodi Lake are some of the latest cultural casualties of the coronavirus pandemic. The United Veterans Council of San Joaquin County decided to produce an Independence Day tribute to give residents a chance to virtually celebrate our country’s birthday.
“We wanted to celebrate, but we wanted to do it safely and protect our community as well as our participants,” said Linda Vasquez, coordinator for the virtual parade. “And this was the next best thing!”
The video features many traditional components of a July 4 celebration, including bagpipes, a presentation by the Stockton VFW Luneta Post 52 honor guard, and, of course, the singing of the national anthem.
“The Fourth of July is commonly associated with fireworks, parades, barbecues, picnics, concerts, baseball games, family gatherings, political speeches, and ceremonies. This year, our celebration of Independence Day will be a little different from previous years, as we help slow the spread of COVID-19 by practicing social distancing,” said San Joaquin County Supervisor Bob Elliott, a veteran who is the keynote speaker.
Elliott emphasized the importance of remembering the Independence Day, saying its significance resonates now more than ever.
“As Americans we must always be ready to defend and preserve our American way of life. Our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I encourage you to study our founding documents, to learn about the rights they guarantee us as Americans, to know our history and the sacrifices that have been made by so many to win and preserve our rights. We must also live our lives in a manner that fosters and cultivate principles upon which our nation was founded,” Elliott said.
He encouraged people celebrating this weekend to “be safe, be smart, and most of all, be proud to be an American.”
A 60-by-40 American flag displayed at the Stockton Civic Auditorium, the home of Luneta VFW Post 52, is featured in the video. The flag was donated by Britton and Erica Warthan.
“It means a lot to me — freedom, what these men and women have done for us, for our country,” Britton Warthan says in the video. “I just don’t want that to be forgotten. I want it to be shown and represented the right way.”
Interspersed with video footage from past Fourth of July parades, the video also includes interviews with elected officials and civic leaders. Vasquez said they wanted to have diverse perspectives featured in the video.
“It’s just a bit of joy in the midst of all the chaos,” Vasquez said.
This video is live on the UVCSJC Facebook page and also available on YouTube.