Thank You...From All of Us

Gilbert and Rudy Esquivel help welcome home five generations of U.S. warriors with a powerhouse show at the Rose Bowl

By Frankie Firme ~ Contributing Editor.
Published on LatinoLA: January 20, 2009

Thank You...From All of Us

Thank you...my brothers & sisters!

That pretty much sums it up after attending the 1st Annual " Welcome Home Defenders of Freedom" Celebration this past Saturday at the Pasadena Rose Bowl.

Over 3,000 military veterans & their families from the WW II, Korea, Viet Nam, Beirut, Somalia, Panama, Grenada, Desert Storm, Iraq, and Afghanistan campaigns congregated on a beautiful day in the Southern Califas sunshine to shake hands, share hugs & memories, pay tribute to the fallen, and mostly provide the well-deserved "welcome home" that a lot of us never got.

It was indeed an honor to meet guys like "Harv", a WW II paratrooper who could still fit into his 101st Airborne Division Uniform that was "stacked" with medals, including a Bronze & Silver Star.

Guys from the "Soldiers of God" Motorcycle club made up a large segment of Viet Nam veterans who proudly wore their colors as well as service ribbons, and were joined by at least 1,000 other brothers on motorcycles .

"This is really nice," East L.A. Revue's Steven Chavez, a brother Viet Nam vet told me, as we sat together with group of Marines from the San Fernando Valley Chapter of the Marine Corps League, of which I am a proud member. "We didn't get this kind of welcome back in '69...so it feels good finally getting it now," he beamed proudly, while wearing his "OD Green" campaign hat.

Marines, Army soldiers, Navy sailors & Coast Guardsmen, and Air Force veterans from all of the past conflicts since 1941 were on hand, sharing camaraderie and the " Welcome back" spirit.

"This is really great," one Viet Nam veteran from the Army 173rd Airborne Division named Rafael told me. "When I first got home in 1967, I was spit on and flipped the middle finger simply because I was wearing my uniform. That has hurt for more than 40 years. I think if that happened here today, those people wouldn't be able to get out of here safely," he laughed. "It just feels great to be around all these brother veterans. No BS, no politics, no envy, no blame or guilt...just veterans being appreciated for serving our country."

That was the spirit of the day: ALL personal agendas, politics & religious beliefs aside, this was a day to honor our warriors...and nothing else.

Besides plenty of sunshine, food, drink, and souvenirs, there was a great group of entertainers providing music and laughs that made the day memorable.

G & R Entertainment, one of L.A.'s best and rising providers of quality Latino entertainment throughout Southern California, the Esquivel brothers (Gilbert & Rudy) pulled out all the stops to put on a quality show for the troops and their families that really made the day at the historic Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, and will be remembered for a long time.

Hosted by well-known comedian Gilbert Esquivel, who easily put a smile on everyone's face with his wit and wisecracks all day long, the show included an impressive martial arts demonstration by youngsters from Seoul, Korea, that ended with a wonderful "Welcome Home U.S. Troops" tribute, and a daring demonstration of precision parachuting that climaxed with the P.O.W. and American flags being flown in by the last two paratroopers that received a standing ovation.

Next, rib-tickling comedy routines by Gilbert Esquivel, Willie Barcena, Darren "The Rooster" Carter, Rudy Moeno, and Eric Blake was well received by everyone in the stadium. Like music, laughter has a way on uniting people together in harmony, ans some SERIOUS uniting was done here!

And speaking of music, some of L.A.'s best was offered.

Starting off the concert, the Johnny Polanco band, led by former Marine and Viet Nam veteran Johnny Polanco, took the stage and gave up some of the hottest salsa music you ever heard.

Next, the SSX Band gave a ground-shaking alternative rock performance that ended with a dedication and loud "Thank You!" to the troops that was well received by the large contingency of younger troops in uniform.

Next up, East L.A. music veterans TIERRA came on stage, with guest singers Issac Avila, and EL CHICANO's Jerry Salas (another Marine Viet Nam veteran). Band leader and founder Rudy Salas proudly wore a U.S. Air Force cap in honor of his son, who is currently serving our country. I talked to Rudy backstage prior to their performance, and I personally thanked him for coming out on short notice to entertain the troops. "Hey, thank YOU guys for serving!...I'm honored to be here," he responded.

To close off the show, WAR came on stage (what a fitting name for the occasion...) and performed some of their best. Unfortunately, the show and the day had to end, 'cause we all could have kept partying while WAR was playing...the feeling was THAT good!

And as the sun set gently over the hills of Pasadena, the day ended with everyone who attended feeling just a little more better about our country...and a little more prouder of our brave men and women who ever put on a military uniform and served....

...like I said in the beginning: Thank you, my brothers & sisters!

About Frankie Firme ~ Contributing Editor.:
Frankie Firme is the "Al Capone of the micophone & the Hitman of West Coast Chicano Soul" heard daily on world wide Internet radio
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