Women wanted for Auburn Veterans Day parade tribute

500 medals struck to be given out to women veterans at Downtown Auburn event
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Where are the women veterans? Organizers for this year’s Veterans Day parade in Auburn have struck 500 medals to honor women who have served in the U.S. armed forces. In preparation for the Nov. 11 event, Auburn Post 84 American Legion Commander Jodi Lesnikowski said organizers want women veterans wishing to be in the parade to let the group know ahead of time so they can secure enough rides and drivers. The decision to honor women in the military follows tributes in past years to Korean War, Vietnam War and World War II veterans, as well as Japanese-American soldiers from the famed 442nd Regimental Combat Team. Lesnikowski – the Auburn post’s first woman commander – is a Vietnam War veteran who served in the Air Force from 1953 to 1974 before retiring as a captain. “There have been women involved in wars since the beginning,” Lesnikowski said. “You can think of Molly Pitcher. And not one woman was ever drafted. We were volunteers, every last one of us.” Lesnikowski said there would have been more women in the service if they hadn’t been prevented from signing up by their parents, who needed to sign off on their decision to join. “I went back to my 50th high school reunion and one of the gals said that she was going to join but couldn’t because her father wouldn’t let here,” Lesnikowski said. Lesnikowski said that even if a woman had just one day of service, she’s a veteran and should come forward Nov. 11 to take part in the parade and be honored on Veterans Day. “Instead of one grand marshal, we’ll all be grand marshals,” Lesnikowski said. “We want them to come out of the woodwork because they’re the forerunners of women serving today.” Women veterans are being asked to arrive at 10:30 a.m. Nov. 11 at the parade staging area on upper Lincoln Way near the Auburn Chamber of Commerce building. But before that, they’re being requested to provide a brief story of their military history. Court Bradbury, Richard W. Townsend Post 84 adjutant, said that story could include any highs and lows. “We need to know if they would like to be in the parade and if they need a ride,” Bradbury said. “It’s very important to contact the committee beforehand because we need to make arrangements for vehicles for everyone.” The letters can be sent to Bradbury care of American Legion Post 84, 100 East St., Auburn, CA 95603 or at Plans are also to separate the parade by war dates with honor guards in between with banners. Medals will be handed to as many woman veterans as possible. To help defray costs, smaller lapel pins honoring veterans are being sold to everyone for a $5 suggested donation, Bradbury said. The parade ends at the Gold Country Fairgrounds and activities afterward include a lunch for participants.