Sunday, May 27, 2012

San Mateo Memorial Day Parade

In 1968, Sgt. Joe Artavia of the 101st Airborne Division, 'A' Company, was serving a tour of duty in Vietnam. 

Sgt. Artavia wrote a letter to his sister Linda in San Mateo, asking her to see if she could have the residents of San Mateo send letters and care packages to the members of his company. 

Sgt. Artavia wrote, "Some of these guys get no mail at all, and a letter from home would boost morale to the clouds." 

Linda did more then just send some letters. 

Thanks to her efforts, the City of San Mateo officially adopted 'A' Company of the 101st Airborne  Division, and from 1968 to 1972 sent a steady stream of letters, packages, and well wishes. 

Sadly, Sgt. Artavia died in action a week after receiving word that the City of San Mateo had officially adopted his unit. 

In 1972, the City of San Mateo was the only city in America to host a welcome home parade for soldiers returning from the Vietnam War, by hosting a parade for their adopted unit. 

In the 1990's, during Operation Desert Storm, and again after 9/11 and during the War on Terror, the City of San Mateo renewed it's relationship with the 101st Airborne Division by sending letters and care packages to their adopted sons and daughters in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

The official policy of the City of San Mateo has always been to put aside the politics of conflict in support of the men and women protect our freedoms.

Today, 40 years later, the City of San Mateo hosted a Memorial Day Parade to honor our veterans, and celebrate San Mateo's adopted sons and daughters, 'A' Company of the 101st Airborne Division. 

'A' Company will be deploying to Afghanistan in November, and San Mateo will be there to support them.

The day was filled with a festive parade through Downtown San Mateo attended by thousands of community members.  The parade then led to a festival and picnic in San Mateo's Central Park. 

Young soldiers, veterans, and residents of all ages mingled in a fun and festive atmosphere.

On this Memorial Day weekend, the City of San Mateo remembers, thanks, and honors all the men and women, past and present, who have served our country in the Armed Forces.   Thank you!

Below are some photos from the day's parade and picnic:

 101st Airborne Division leading off the San Mateo Memorial Day Parade

Equestrian Unit

 Girls Scouts marching in the San Mateo Memorial Day Parade

 Crowds line the sidewalks of downtown San Mateo for the Memorial Day Parade

A restored Huey Helicopter similar to the type flown in the Vietnam War

 Members of the 101st mingle with San Mateo residents in Central Park

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