Porterville Recorder photo by Chieko Hara
Something beautiful happened this weekend. My friends' daughter, Katie Lopez, was crowned Veterans Day "Miss Porterville" last night. I was there covering the story. When they called her name, I cried.
I was excited for her but that is not why it was so beautiful.
It was beautiful because it was a dream come true for her.
For the past 17 years (ok, maybe only 15) Katie has attended the annual pageant. Her father, (I went to school with both her parents and we all work on the reunion committees together) has worked at the auditorium where it is held for the past 32 years, and every year Katie watched, waiting patiently to be old enough to participate. She always knew she wanted to represent our Veterans by being their homecoming queen.
I believe that it would be such an honor to be the Veterans Homecoming Queen. I never tried for it. The closest I go was in college when I was named homecoming princess during football season. But that was not anything like this. That was a pure popularity contest and since I was a cheerleader, in the nursing program and a member of the track and cross country teams, I had plenty of people voting for me.
This is different. These young ladies were judged on a written essay, judges' interviews, talent, and the way they presented themselves in public.
It is also not associated with a football game, but with our Veterans -- which I admire tremondously. I am a very patriotic person and love the way Porterville treats Veterans Day.
Porterville is really big on Veterans Day. We have the parade, several services, a Veterans Day tea - which I have covered for the local paper for four years, and of course, my favorite -- the annual Band-A-Rama: something started by Buck Shaffer to honor our veterans. Hundreds of young musicians, from all of the local marching bands, come together to play patriotic music. It is not a competition, but a showcase of bands. Each band parades around the stadium individually before taking their place on the field. When all of the bands are on the field, they all play the same music simultaneously -- without ever practicing together as a group. It is the most amazing thing and they sound awesome.
But, back to Katie. My heart was filled with joy -- and with the thought that yes, dreams really do come true. Just ask Katie.
Congratulations again, Katie. I know you'll represent Porterville and the Porterville veterans well.
To read the story, go to www.portervillerecorder.com (story up 10/23 only, then moved to onlinearchives)