|Donít blow ĎTapsí quite yet for Armistice Day in RP
Wednesday, Nov. 11 is Armistice Day. But apparently in Rohnert Park it’ll be just another Wednesday and it’s extremely frustrating for Bob Safreno. For years, RP’s Recreation Dept. has helped Safreno put together a program every Nov. 11 to mark the day when Germany signed a peace treaty with France, Great Britain and the United States ending World War I in 1918.
“We had Boy Scouts putting up 25 American flags on poles outside the Community Center, Gary Young’s Community Band played, Margot Godolphin’s RP Chorale sang, we had a guest speaker and refreshments,” said Safreno. “But Wendy Audiss, who coordinated the event with local veterans, lost her job in the re-organized rec department and nobody has been named to take her place.
“Wendy did everything,” he said. “The city council back then did its part to promote it, like Jake Mackenzie and Vicki Vidak Martinez. But the city council nowadays is mostly new and Armistice Day, I guess, is only something they heard from their parents or grandparents.”
This has led to the problem of finding participants like the community band and the choral group to sign up for the Nov. 11 ceremonies since there might not be any.
There is hope, however. Recreation Dept. Manager Guy Miller said, “The city will be holding a ceremony November 11, and we’re looking for a volunteer coordinator from one of the veterans’ groups to help us out.” RP Community Band Director Gary Young said, “I hear Guy Miller’s working on a plan for Armistice Day. The band’s willing to do its share.”
Rohnert Park Girl Scouts will be holding a Flag Retirement Ceremony at the Scout Hut behind John Reed School on Armistice Day, also known as Veteran’s Day, at 11 a.m. They’ll be showing visitors the proper ritual of destroying old and tattered flags by cutting them in strips and burning them on a charcoal stove. It has little to do with Armistice Day but it’s a solemn, patriotic ceremony and the Girl Scouts, under the leadership of Barbara Novak, take this patriotic lesson to heart very seriously.
The flags supposedly planned for Nov. 11 are stored in the Community Center. The poles are stored somewhere in a corporation yard. A lot more than 25 are used every Memorial Day with the work done by Boy Scouts. The number is up to 181.
Safreno, 73, a Vietnam War veteran, is a 36-year member of the former Rohnert Park Martin Slobodnick American Legion, now based in Cotati’s Veterans Building. He also belongs to the Veterans of Foreign Wars and Disabled American Veterans. He’s a retired Post Office worker and was postmaster in the community of Vineburg near Sonoma for years.
“This whole Armistice Day’s sliding into obscurity. Sure, Petaluma has a Nov. 11 parade thanks to donations from the community,” he said. “But here, it’s a ‘Catch 22’ situation. What we need are a few dedicated volunteers to replace Wendy.”
Safreno can be reached via his cell phone at 479-9374.