How West Sacramentans celebrated the Fourth of July

How West Sacramentans celebrated the Fourth of July

By Michele Townsend To 8-year-old (“About to turn 9!”), Ella Godina, the Fourth of July is about “Staying up all night, with lots of fun and fireworks!” To 15-year-old Laura Garcia, “Independence More »

Girls softball team eligible to play at the California State Games, looking for donations

Girls softball team eligible to play at the California State Games, looking for donations

Congratulations to the West Sacramento Girls Softball (WSGS) 10U-All Star Team in attaining a berth to play at the California State Games on July 13 -16, 2017, in San Diego. The WSGS More »

Get ready for the Fourth! Here’s where to get your fireworks

Get ready for the Fourth! Here’s where to get your fireworks

The West Sacramento City Council adopted Ordinance 11-2 which regulates the possession, sale, and use of fireworks within city limits. The State of California approved Safe and Sane Fireworks are permitted to More »

 

West Sacramento veterans share stories of glory, pride and sacrifice this Independence Day

By Michele Townsend

Fourth of July, the American Flag and veterans are all symbols that we as Americans should all appreciate and admire. On Independence Day morning, the veterans at the West Sacramento VFW Post 8762, had plans to hold a salute to Old Glory (The American Flag). Because of the way that events unfolded that morning, the salute was not as grand of a spectacle as they had planned for the morning. But that didn’t stop the vets that were still there from celebrating our flag in a small presentation.

Peter Macias, the post’s flag specialist and historian, explained how once we were independent from the rule of King George and needed a standard of our freedom, and that the flag, your flag, is that standard.

Peter said, “The flag is not just a piece of cloth; it is a symbol of the freedoms that we have and continue to enjoy.” He continued by saying that “if it weren’t for the men and women, in uniform, and patriots, this magnificent piece of cloth which symbolizes our nation, would mean nothing.”

He reminded everyone that “the flag has been our symbol for 241 years, that any and all of us should be glad to stand our post and ensure that no one takes Old Glory away. We should all love and respect the flag of the United States of America!”

When Peter was done speaking, you could feel the pride in the room. Another vet (name unknown) stood up and said that he just wanted to say that “the flag is in fact a very strong symbol of our country, and for those who have served in another part of the world, traipsing around the countryside for months at a time, and you come back and see your flag flying at any base, it is a very powerful symbol! And you realize how glad you are to be home.” They spoke about Prisoners of War: those that have survived, those that haven’t, and those that are still there. They asked that we all take a moment and consider how much those men and women would love to see the flag, be wrapped in it, and safe. I feel safe in saying that we all send our thoughts and prayers to those servicemen and women that are still battling!
The presentation ended and people dispersed and went on their ways. The question of what different people had planned for the day was asked back and forth among the veteran brothers and some of their responses led to an entire new feeling and conversation about the day.

I then had a very intense, real, and eye opening conversation about veterans, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and fireworks. To the rest of us, the Fourth of July is a holiday filled with sun, barbecue, beer, friends and family. And of course, fireworks.

But, to many veterans, Independence Day is a day of flashbacks, rapid heartbeat, sweating, heavy breathing, uneasy feelings, and sometimes fear or panic. Fireworks are pretty and colorful light shows. The boom of them being lit off is part of the excitement for the general public. However, for many veterans the fireworks that are set off on July Fourth are just the sound of bombs going off. In fact, they are bombs going off. They are just constructed to blow up pretty, instead of deadly.

Post Commander James Brashear explained that for some vets, going to a fireworks show is OK because they know that they are coming and they know to expect it. He further explained that he “still has the physical symptoms when he goes to a show. My heart beats fast and my breathing picks up, but I can control it for the most part because I am expecting it.” He also explained that he has many friends that cannot handle it. Explaining further, he said, “The worst thing is the ones that people in the neighborhoods have and light off privately. The reason that they are so bad is because they are out of the blue with no kind of warning”. The PTSD symptoms are much stronger and harder to control. James said that “Sounds and smells are the most powerful flashback triggers. Those triggers bring you back to a fight or flight response that is instinctual for everyone. For a veteran, who has been programmed to fight, as soon as he hears the sounds, he goes into the response of take cover, look what’s going on, assess the situation and engage, you are now taking that assessment and engaging your neighbors. But you are in auto pilot and don’t realize it, so that fight or flight response becomes fight.”

PTSD can occur when someone has lived through or seen a life threatening or very traumatic incident like military combat, natural disaster, terrorist incidents, serious accidents, or violent personal assaults like rape, beating or mugging, etc. According to https://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/ptsd-overview; All Veterans with PTSD have lived through a traumatic event that made them fear for their lives, see horrible things and feel helpless. People who have PTSD often have nightmares, flashbacks, difficulty sleeping, and feeling emotionally numb. Not everyone gets PTSD, and it is unclear why some do and some don’t. It has been around for as long as there have been wars. In WWII, PTSD was called “shell shock” or “battle fatigue” The Department of Veteran Affairs estimates that PTSD afflicts almost 31 percent of Vietnam Vets, 10 percent of Desert Storm Vets, 11 to 20 percent of Iraqi vets and 11 percent of Afghanistan vets.

James said that he is very lucky because he lives in a good neighborhood and has great neighbors. “It’s just one more reason that you should know your neighbors!” he said. “If my neighbors have fireworks, they know that they will effect me, and they will come over and tell me they will be lighting them off and do I want to come watch. Even if I don’t go, at least I know they are coming.”

So, in future years, by all means celebrate our wonderful nation, but remember your neighbors. Remember that maybe that old guy that is yelling at you for having fun, has a reason for that. Invite them to join the party, or at least give them a heads up that it will be coming.

West Sacramento Riverfront Renaissance Projects Showcased

By Jan Dalske for the News Ledger
Anyone who was interested in finding out what is happening along the Downtown Riverfront was invited to attend the event that was recently held at the City of West Sacramento’s Corporation Yard. The details of all the projects that are currently in the planning stages were displayed. CWS staff members were on hand to answer any questions. In an effort to obtain “Community Feedback”, a card which asked for any thoughts, comments or questions about the various projects was handed out to all attendees.
The Southern Riverfront area includes the Pioneer Bluff and Stone Lock reuse Master Plan. The CWS has been working on ways to what they refer to as “re-envision” the historic waterfront from industrial uses to a vibrant and active mixed-use community.
Plans for the Bridge District were first introduced in late 2010. It is also a mixed-use development. Located from the Tower Bridge to the Interstate 80 overpass, it is directly on the Sacramento Riverfront in West Sacramento. The expected build-out will include 9.6 million square feet of residential and commercial development.
The Sacramento Docks Area Specific Plan is a future mixed-use development project which is in close proximity to historic Sacramento, Raley Field Stadium and the Crocker Art Museum. This plan began in 2009 with the adoption of a Specific Plan. The adoption of this SP represented the final stage in a planning process which included the Sacramento Riverfront Master Plan (2003) and the Docks Area Concept Plan (2005).
Miller Park Redevelopment Area was included in the 2003 Riverfront Master Plan. This area is proposed as a residential neighborhood clustered around Miller Park and the marina. It would be a mixed-use development which would include restaurants and retail while promoting connections to the riverfront.
Broadway Complete Street includes the Broadway Corridor, which is home to a variety of businesses, residents, government facilities, industrial centers, and cultural hot spots in the CWS. The goal is to identify the changes that will be necessary to make this historic corridor a more inviting and safe place for all travelers, including pedestrians, cyclists, transit users and motorists. The preliminary plan was developed in April of 2016.
Other Sacramento River crossings include the I Street Bridge Replacement Project, the I Street Bridge Deck Conversion and the R Street to Garden Street Pedestrian Bridge. These projects will be coordinated with the city of Sacramento. The ISBRP will include a new bridge crossing upstream of the existing ISB between the Sacramento Railyards and West Sacramento’s Washington planned developments.
West Sacramento will be partnering with the city of Sacramento to study the feasibility of converting the upper deck of the historic I Street Bridge to a bicycle and pedestrian crossing, following the construction of the C Street/ Railyards Bridge. The study will begin in the Summer of 2017.
The 2003 Riverfront Master Plan identified a proposed new pedestrian bridge which would connect R Street on the Sacramento side across the Sacramento River to Garden Street in West Sacramento. The new bridge would provide an additional pedestrian and bicycle connection and access to destinations in both cities. The crossing will be a movable bridge and a new signature landmark for the area.
All of these projects will take time, but, for both the cities of Sacramento and West Sacramento, they will be worth waiting for.

How West Sacramentans celebrated the Fourth of July

By Michele Townsend

To 8-year-old (“About to turn 9!”), Ella Godina, the Fourth of July is about “Staying up all night, with lots of fun and fireworks!” To 15-year-old Laura Garcia, “Independence Day is a day to spend with family, having fun. And it’s a day that the whole neighborhood watches fireworks together… when everyone is outside having fun.” The fact is, these girls are absolutely right! We all know that 241 years ago, on July 4, 1776, the Thirteen Colonies claimed their independence from England by signing the Declaration of Independence which led to the formation of the United States. But, did you know that at that same time, the way in which we celebrate Independence Day was also declared!? John Adams envisioned how the celebration should take place. He stated about July 4th celebrations “It will be celebrated… With pomp (ceremony and splendid display) and parade…bonfires and illuminations (fireworks) from one end of the continent to the other.” This was declared before the Declaration was even signed!

The first Independence Day was actually held on July 8, 1776 at the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence in Independence Square, Philadelphia. There was music being played by bands, and the ringing of bells. This is where the term “let freedom ring” came from. One year later, on July Fourth (and forever to be on July Fourth) 1777, Independence Day was celebrated by “Adjourning Congress and celebrating with bonfires, bells and fireworks” This day was forever to be known as the day of celebrating freedom. The freedom of being our own country, and the freedoms that brought us.

We the People, now a Nation, were free to speak how we saw fit. We were free to worship whatever religion we chose. And because we had the freedom to speak, religion has always been controversial. Everyone has their own view of right and wrong. Not only in religion, but in everything! We have terms like “In God We Trust” on our money, and “One Nation under God” in our Pledge of Allegiance. But because of the freedoms that we are celebrating, it doesn’t say… or restrict… us to which God. It could be my God, it could be yours. But, in this country, we are free to choose. Perhaps the Forefathers had the insight when they wrote about the Freedom of Religion, that the U.S. would welcome the blessing and guidance of all Gods. Regardless, we became an independent country that is based on the importance of freedom, That freedom still stands true today. Pat Bobo, age 32, said, “It’s about Patriotism, but I’m not really proud of our government right now, so I pretty much just party and shoot off fireworks. It’s not much deeper than that.” Again, love or hate what people say, but the freedom of speech is a wonderful thing!

To some people however, the Fourth of July celebration means much more! It may still include fireworks, patriotic music, red white and blue clothes, barbecue, beer and apple pie… but it is a day for many to pay special tribute and send extra prayers to the men and women of the military. A thank you for our for those who guard and protect those very freedoms against anyone or anything that threatens them… a day to sit back and realize how good we’ve got it, and why that is. Stacy Evans, who is “rockin 46” said very enthusiastically “It’s about Independence, Freedom and red, white and blue all the way!” Yet Donna Reber, age 71, says that to her “4th of July means that a bunch of people are going out to spend a bunch of money on getting drunk and fireworks and make her dogs go crazy while she sits there trying to calm them down.”

Let’s all just be happy that in this country, because of those people, on that day, in 1776…. We were able to celebrate life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Girls softball team eligible to play at the California State Games, looking for donations

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Congratulations to the West Sacramento Girls Softball (WSGS) 10U-All Star Team in attaining a berth to play at the California State Games on July 13 -16, 2017, in San Diego. The WSGS 10U-All Star team played hard on June 24-25, at the USA Softball Association Championship tournament, to win their way to the Championship game. The team is asking for help from the community and businesses for donations and sponsors to provide our girls the opportunity to play in San Diego. If you would like to donate or sponsor the WSGS 10U All Star Team, or need additional information, please contact Rebecca Valencia via email rebec_v@yahoo.com or phone 916-718-5831. The team would appreciate any and all help it can get.