Veterans Day in Truckee
Special to the Sierra Sun
KNOW & GO
WHAT: Online virtual Veterans Day event
WHO: Special guest speaker will be Greg Seeger, Captain and a U.S. Marine Corps Veteran
WHEN: Wednesday, Nov. 11, from 11 a.m. to noon
WHERE: Watch online at Truckee Tahoe Media http://ttctv.org/. A free to-go lunch will be available for pickup to veterans, active service members and their families at the Veterans Hall (10124 High Street, Truckee)
Nov. 11 is our nation’s celebration of Veterans Day. It honors the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918 signaling the end of World War I. It originally commemorated those who served and gave their lives in the Great War.
Initially Veterans Day was called “Armistice Day,” a day dedicated to bringing world peace. Armistice refers to the temporary cessation of hostilities between the Allied nations and Germany before the formal signing of the Treaty of Versailles (signed June 28, 1919).
Nov. 11 became a legal national holiday in 1938. In 1954, after World War II, Congress (at the urging of veterans service organizations) amended the Act of 1938 by replacing “Armistice” with “Veterans.” Nov. 11 then became a day to honor American veterans from all foreign wars, past and current.
Veterans Day Acknowledgement in Truckee
Truckee has a long history of supporting and honoring our veterans.
Located on the hillside above Downtown Truckee, the Truckee Veterans Memorial Building, also known as the Veterans Hall, was built in 1939 as a symbol of how the community supports and advocates for our veterans. The Veterans Hall retains its community association as a gathering place for three generations of veterans, residents and visitors.
Shortly after the May 1941 Veterans Hall dedication, the United States suffered the Pearl Harbor bombing and by December the U.S. was at war with Japan and Germany. The Veterans Hall suddenly became the local war efforts command center for dissemination and gathering of information. Active military personnel used the building for recreation and rest, lodging, training and recruiting. Civil service activities were orchestrated and implemented, and high school students and residents were drafted.
The entire area of Truckee was a hub of activity during this time. Civilian forces were recruited as lookouts for enemy aircraft. Troops were deployed to the Donner Summit Train Tunnels for monitoring since Truckee was the gateway through the Sierra Nevada by road and railroad, connecting the United States from coast to coast. Local ski resorts were also used for troop training, military equipment testing, and monitoring for spies and sabotage. As the first alpine fighting force in the U.S. Armed Forces, the 10th Mountain Division saw about 15 men from the Lake Tahoe region serve in its ranks. After World War II ended, many of the men in the 10th Mountain Division came to Truckee and Lake Tahoe area to help develop the area’s world-class ski industry.
Since its inception, the Veterans Hall has been used for school classes, military troop housing, community center activities, veterans meeting place, personal and family social events, shooting range for law enforcement agencies, an emergency/disaster staging and training areas, special events, a World War II and Cold War Defense siren location, and most recently, the site for the Emergency Warming Center (EWC).
With its spectacular view of Truckee and the local surroundings, the Veterans Hall was one of many ways Truckee has memorialized and honored U.S. Armed Services of World War I and all subsequent foreign wars. In 2021 the Hall will celebrate its 80th anniversary.
Victory Highway Eagle Monument
Below the Veterans Memorial Building in Downtown Truckee is the Victory Highway Eagle Monument.
First installed at the California-Nevada state line on July 24, 1928, the Victory Highway Eagle Monument is now permanently located on the corner of Donner Pass Road and Spring Street in Downtown Truckee in Victory Plaza. This monument is a bronze sculpture designed to honor America’s sons and daughters who served their country in World War I. These statues were intended to be placed at every U.S. county line along the transcontinental Victory Highway but when the Great Depression hit the project was sidelined. (Note: The 3,025 mile Victory Highway mostly followed the Lincoln Highway from San Francisco through Sacramento, over Donner Pass, to Reno and continuing east to New York City.) Only six of these monuments are known to have been made with Truckee having one of the six. These statues depict an eagle with its six-foot, eight-inch wings spread protectively over two young eaglets in a nest, symbolizing the United States’ protection of its citizens. The plaque at the bottom of the statue says “Dedicated to California’s sons and daughters who served their country in the World War 1917-1918 and to the memory of those who gave the last measure of devotion”.
This special monument and its prominent location once again reflect a shared gratitude toward veterans for protecting Americans’ liberty and freedom.
The Tradition Continues
Veterans Day continues to be observed on Nov. 11, no matter what day of the week it falls on. The historical significance of this date helps focus attention on it being a celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.
Because of Truckee’s long history of honoring veterans, our town is recognized by the Department of Veterans Affairs as a regional site for the observance of Veterans Day 2020. We are the only small community to receive such an honor. This year Truckee will be hosting an online virtual Veterans Day event on Wednesday, Nov. 11, from 11 a.m. to noon.
Special guest speaker will be Greg Seeger, Captain and a U.S. Marine Corps Veteran. The Civil Air Patrol Tahoe-Truckee Composite Squadron cadets will present the colors and music will be provided by the Mountain Belles. A free to-go lunch will be available for pickup to veterans, active service members and their families at the Veterans Hall (10124 High Street, Truckee). Truckee’s Virtual Veterans Day will be streamed on Truckee Tahoe Media http://ttctv.org/.
Judy DePuy is a retired civil engineer, marketer, and volunteer for Truckee Donner Historical and Railroad Societies and Donner Summit Historical Society. Judy enjoys traveling, hiking, skiing, sewing, giving back to the community and sharing our town’s rich history.
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