Throughout the Crescenta Valley, vets are remembered for their service to their country.
By Jason KUROSU
One year after a memorial wall was erected in Two Strike Park to honor fallen veterans, the VFW and American Legion held a vigil and ceremony on Veterans’ Day, paying tribute to veterans nationwide and within the foothills.
Vietnam veteran Mike Baldwin, who is a member of both the VFW and American Legion, led the proceedings.
“Veterans’ Day is for all veterans, regardless of when, where or what your service was, whether it was during wartime or peacetime,” said Baldwin. “They served their country and they should be proud.”
This point was exemplified by the salute to the five branches of service, which was presented by the Crescenta Valley Air Force ROTC led by Lt. Col. Dave Worley. The flags of the five branches were presented one by one, with members of each branch standing and saluting as their respective service song was played.
But remembrances for veterans were not limited to their service in wartime, but also the hardships they faced upon returning home.
American Legion Post 288 Commander and Vietnam veteran Lynn McGinnis described how the VFW and American Legion work nationally and locally to aid veterans, whether to help secure claims and/or benefits from the Dept. of Veterans Affairs or help numerous homeless veterans get the food and shelter they need.
Assemblymember Mike Gatto also spoke on veterans’ issues, particularly veterans having to pay higher tuition to attend California schools, and military spouses not being able to secure work in the state.
Gatto echoed other speakers who referenced a lack of appreciation for those who served with a quote from former Prime Minister George Canning, “When our perils are past, shall our gratitude sleep?”
“It’s fascinating to think that England was wrestling with this in 1807, as we’re wrestling with it now,” said Gatto.
“On Veterans’ Day, it’s a good time to step back and see how far we’ve come from the days of Vietnam when a lot of our returning service members were treated with nothing but derision,” said Congressman Adam Schiff, who spoke on homelessness and unemployment among veterans. “But it’s also time to take stock of how far we have to go.”
The event concluded with an interactive flag retirement ceremony, in which members of the audience were given red, white and blue pieces of cloth by the members of Boy Scout Troop 288, which regularly attends the Two Strike Veterans’ Day ceremonies.
Members of the audience were called out to place their cloths upon a fire near the memorial wall accompanied by the lines of the poem, “I Am Your Flag.” Those with red cloths were called upon for “red stripes symbolize the blood spilled in defense of this glorious nation.” Those with white stripes were called upon for “white stripes signify the yearning tears shed by Americans who lost their sons and daughters.” And those with blue stripes were called upon for “my blue field is indicative of God’s heaven, under which I fly.”
In addition to the names on the Heroes of Freedom wall, 58 veterans from the Crescenta Valley had their names on display on the walkway of Hometown Heroes, which included names displayed on banners along Foothill Boulevard stretching from Pennsylvania Avenue to Briggs.