By Hal Collier, Retired LAPD
Hal sent this article along to commemorate the day we honor veterans–the real American heroes.
The following story is true and I’ll use real names. I worked many special events during my time in Hollywood. I worked the Hollywood Christmas parade in one capacity or another for 30 plus years. Notice I said Christmas and not Holiday parade. I’ve resisted being politically correct and now that I’m retired I’ve been set free. I’m writing this now because it is appropriate.
I worked more movie premieres than Siskel & Ebert. The best job I ever worked was the “Welcome Home Desert Storm Parade” for the military. It was May 19, 1991. It was a tribute to all the soldiers who served in all the American wars. It was especially for the Viet Nam veterans who never were welcomed back.
I was assigned to the Green Room with Dale Hickerson. The Green Room for my non-Hollywood readers, is the room where celebrities gather before and after an event. They serve food and drinks and the celebrities mingle. Dale and I have worked the Green Room for the Christmas parades and learned that the best place to stand was at the rear exit. That’s where the stars walk out to get on a float or in a car to begin the parade. It’s also next to where the caterers bring in the fresh appetizers. We had first shot at all the good food. Caterers always take care of the guys with guns.
Dale and I are not into the Hollywood celebrity worship thing. We find that most of them are phony and have enormous egos. The Desert Storm Parade was different. They had real American heroes.
Dale and I were standing by the back door when two old timers walked up to us and started talking. They both had Congressional Medal of Honor medals around their necks. Damn real American heroes. I had lump in my throat and could hardly talk. One received his medal at Pearl Harbor. I wish I had written down their names but I was star struck.
They spent thirty minutes talking to us. What a thrill.
Later we were introduced to General Westmoreland, a general during the Viet Nam War. He was warmer than some of the department brass I’ve spoken to. We met Martha Raye, who entertained our troops during WW II, the Korean, and the Viet Nam Wars. We also met other soldiers but these made the biggest impression.
Dale and I will never forget the sacrifices and the thrill of meeting some of these true American Heroes. To the veterans who read this; “THANK YOU.”