By Mary O’KEEFE
“Whereas the 11th of November 1918 marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again
With those words the United States Congress of 1926 officially recognized the end of World War I and created what is now recognized on Nov. 11 as Veterans Day.
Crescenta Valley will be honoring veterans at Two Strike Park on Friday with a vigil from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. followed by a flag retirement ceremony led by Boy Scout Troop 288 and a “Salute to the Military” conducted by the CV High School JROTC.
The day will also be a chance to give those in attendance information on the planned veterans memorial.
Local veterans from the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars had begun discussions a couple of years ago to build a memorial to honor those men and women from Crescenta Valley who died while serving their country. They began to fundraise, but then the economy took a severe dive.
“I think the economy slowed us down, then we had our [VFW] post sold out from under us a year ago,” said Warren Spayth, VFW 1614 commander.
The lease for the former VFW post in the 2900 block of Honolulu Avenue was not renewed and the post had to close. The VFW now shares a new home with American Legion Post 288 in the 4000 block of La Crescenta Avenue.
The push for the memorial may have been put on hold but it was never far from the minds of the veterans and many in the community who knew of the efforts.
“[When we looked at it again] we came to the realization that we were going to need some help,” Spayth said regarding pulling the project together.
They began talking to community leaders on the Crescenta Valley Town Council and CV Chamber of Commerce.
“We met with [U.S. Navy veteran] Steve Pierce,” Spayth said. “Then with Jean Maluccio [of the CV Chamber] and through Steve we met Harry Leon [U.S. Marines and member of CVTC].”
The list of community members continued to grow to form a Two Strike Park Memorial committee that includes veterans Leon, Pierce and Lynn McGinnis as well as Maluccio and CVTC President Cheryl Davis. CVHS students Ben Marchman, representing the Kitty Hawk Society (JROTC), and Molly Shelton of Prom Plus Club are also part of the committee, which is led by Lt. Col. Dave Worley.
“It is really nice to have local community leaders and students on the [committee]. We have broad community support,” Spayth said.
He added that memorials are important on several levels.
“For family members it does memorialize that particular family member’s life and it lets the community know who they were, which is even more important in small communities likes ours,” he said.
Veteran Hrair Petrosyan from Tujunga agreed that memorials are important. He served in the U.S. Army from 2004 to 2009. He entered the military for the education value and to give back to his country.
“My parents are from Armenia. I wanted to give back to the country that had given and my family a [good] life,” he said.
One of the surprises after he joined was how much work was expected of him.
“It was definitely a lifestyle change, the repetitive [nature] and the work load,” he added.
Petrosyan was stationed at Fort Campbell in Kentucky. It was his first time out of California.
“It was a culture shock, but everyone was nice. They treated me like family so it was easy to adjust,” he said.
Petrosyan served two tours in Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The first tour was from 2005 to 2006, the second from 2007 to 2008. He is now a student of history at UC San Diego.
Before he joined the Army, Petrosyan had a different take on veterans and Veterans Day.
“I didn’t really honor them during Veterans Day. It was just another day off, but now I have more appreciation of life. [The] military definitely is a mind-opening experience,” he said.
Petrosyan said a memorial not only honors those who had died while serving their country but it also serves as a support for veterans.
“It lets [us] know we are not alone,” he said. “And it gives the civilian population a chance to [show their] gratitude for their service.”
While Petrosyan is getting back to his civilian life, Stephen Beck is just beginning his military service with the U.S. Air Force. Beck graduated CV High School in 2011 and will be reporting for service on Nov. 14.
“I [enlisted] in my junior year,” he said.
Beck had been homeschooled for most of his life. “I didn’t have any real discipline or organizational [skills]. I thought the military would help,” he said.
He was also looking at future education opportunities and wanted to serve his country. He took tests and waited for months to hear what his job in the Air Force would entail.
“I will be aiming and maintaining satellites dishes and communication systems,” he said.
Beck had been in CVHS Robotics while in high school and wanted a career in computer and technology industries. He said he is looking forward to his new job in the Air Force but is also nervous about leaving home for the first time.
“I am nervous because everything is going to change,” he said.
Although America’s troops are moving out of Iraq, troops continue to be deployed to Afghanistan. Beck is not certain where he will be sent as part of his required 10 months of combat period.
“When I was in high school, I knew what was going on. I would have a paper due next week, [and things were scheduled],” he said. “I am leaving to grow up.”
His father, stepmom, two brothers and sisters would prefer he do his growing up closer to home, but they understand why he enlisted. And there is a history.
“My mom was in the military, in the Army Operation Desert Storm,” he said.
Beck said he has great respect for those who have and are presently serving in the military, and that a memorial would be a way to honor those who sacrificed their lives.
“I haven’t served yet but just going through the process … it is scary as hell and it gives me a new respect for those that have gone before,” he said.
The Two Strike Park Memorial will be funded through donations. The committee is planning several fundraising events including a 5K Run and pancake breakfast. The first event will be the USO Canteen Night at the La Crescenta Woman’s Club, 4004 La Crescenta Ave. from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Dec. 8. Tickets are $25, the CVHS Jazz Swing Band will perform.
For information visit www.twostrikememorial.org.
If there is rain on Nov. 11, the Veterans Day ceremony will be held at the American Legion Hall Post 288, 4011 La Crescenta Ave. For more information, call (818) 541-1336.