HARVARD – When Chester Parks came home to Harvard after winning two gold medals and a silver in the 30th annual National Veterans Golden Age Games, he was greeted by family and neighbors who had lined the streets to congratulate him.
The 88-year-old World War II veteran competed in three swimming events – the 25-yard freestyle, 50-freestyle and 25-backstroke – at the games Tuesday in Detroit.
“It was very competitive, and I enjoyed being with all the vets,” Parks said. “It was like being back in the Army.”
Parks said he was shocked when he received his three medals at the games, something he had been training for since April.
Parks came home wearing all three of his medals Wednesday night, his granddaughter Amanda Honea, who arranged the parade, said. She said Harvard police and Harvard Fire Protection District participated in the parade that ran down Northfield Avenue toward Parks’ home on Wildflower Lane.
“I was absolutely overwhelmed,” Parks said. “I was crying, the sirens were going, the horns were blowing, all the neighbors all over this whole subdivision were outside.”
Honea said the community support was incredible, and she’s very proud of her grandfather.
“He was so proud to do it and he went into it saying he was going to be No. 1, and he certainly came out No. 1,” Honea said.
“It’s a pretty incredible experience and something not many people get to say about their grandpa, so it’s very cool, and we’re very proud of him.”
Now that he’s not training, Parks said he will continue to swim for exercise, and go back to writing books in his free time.