Sideline Conversations: The meaning of yellow ribbons down Douglas Boulevard

By: Mark Soto
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It was 2008, and for many Granite Bay parents it was the worst of times. Not because of the nature of our depreciating real estate or the economy. No, it was because we had children at war. A few of us parents who live in the area had started a military support group. Some of us had sons returning from their deployments. Others had their kids still fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. One day a Granite Bay mother had an idea. This idea has become an annual tradition. This mom had a son that had already served two tours in Iraq. She remembered the yellow ribbons that decorated communities during the Vietnam War era, and she thought, “Let’s do this!” So, at the crack of dawn before the Thanksgiving of 2008 began the tradition of decorating Douglas Boulevard, a tradition that continues today. Every week before Thanksgiving this group of supporters consisting of parents of military sons and daughters clothe themselves in Caltrans reflective orange vests and grab flashlights and a bag of yellow ribbons and tie what seems like hundreds of yellow ribbons around trees along nearly four miles of Douglas Boulevard. The ribbons remain up through New Year’s Day. The ribbons serve as a symbol of remembrance to honor all of the military people who are here for the holidays, all of them who are returning home for good, and the ones who can’t come home at all. This all began back in 2008 and it continues onward. In fact the project has earned the support of Placer County. “This is a great project, and Placer County is pleased to support it,” said Placer County Supervisor Kirk Uhler, Granite Bay’s representative on the Placer County Board of Supervisors. “The holiday spirit will burn a little more brightly in all of us as we travel along Douglas over the holidays thanks to the hard work of these military supporters. As we enjoy our families and friends during the holidays, I think it is important to remember that there are many young men and women who won’t have that opportunity because of their service to our country and to our communities.” Last year, Granite Bay lost a young U.S. Marine man who lived in our community. His name was Victor Dew and his parents have become good friends of mine. They still reside near the high school. We speak weekly and I know what these ribbons mean to them. It means we have not forgotten their son’s sacrifice. It means love and remembrance. Victor sacrificed his life for us. Honestly, this is the least we can do as a community. Victor and all the others deserve this remembrance. Let’s never forget how blessed of a nation we really are. This year I ask you to begin a tradition with us. Take out a yellow ribbon and tie it around your tree. Tie a yellow ribbon to symbolize your commitment to honoring America’s military who are proudly serving around the globe, their families, those who are missing in action, and those who have fallen. I guarantee this seemingly small symbolic ribbon will make you feel proud. Freedom is not free! Merry Christmas Granite Bay and Happy New Year! Mark “Coach” Soto can be found at