By Mary O’KEEFE
On Sunday at a ceremony in commemoration of Veterans Day at Two Strike Park, members of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars created a Walk of Honor for veterans who have served in the military since 9/11.
The ceremony began at 3 p.m. after an all day vigil held by veterans.
Boy Scout Troop 288 performed a flag retirement ceremony that allowed the audience to participate. Each person was given a strip of old and damaged flags, then they lined up to place the pieces in the fire.
“This ceremony that the Boy Scout Troop does is special because it involves everyone,” said Mike Baldwin, Vietnam veteran and master of ceremonies.
The speeches from the podium reflected the honor for all veterans with mention of those young men and women who are serving currently and have served recently. The speakers, veterans Baldwin and Ken Jury, reminded the audience that the American Legion and VFW members are still serving by helping those who have been in the military.
Congressman Adam Schiff was in attendance. He spoke about his father, an Army veteran, and of servicemen he had met in Afghanistan, Iraq and in the United States. He spoke of their maturity, honor and dedicated service to their country.
Assemblymember Mike Gatto was also at the ceremony. He spoke of his family’s long history of military service as well. He also pledged to match any donation up to $1,000 made to the Two Strike Park War Memorial at the ceremony. VFW Commander Warren Spayth immediately raised his hand to donate $500, and Congressman Adam Schiff made a donation of $500 earlier to a group of veterans at the ceremony. But even after the $1,000 challenge was met, the donations continued. Several of those in the audience took out their checkbooks for the Two Strike Park War Memorial. Not only were veterans honored at the park, but now the memorial is more than $2,000 closer to its goal.
The Two Strike Park War Memorial, at present, is small and is in disrepair. Veterans and community members began working to raise funds to remodel and repair the existing memorial. The Two Strike Park War Memorial committee’s goal is to build the memorial so the names of military personnel who have lost their lives while in service to their country can be added. They need $75,000, and have raised about $47,000 thus far.
Anyone who would like to donate can do so at www.twostrikememorial.org
KHAS Holds Veterans Dinner
By Natalie MAIER
Crescenta Valley High School’s JROTC Kitty Hawk Air Society – KHAS – held its annual Veterans Day dinner at the American Legion Post 288 on Saturday. The purpose was to honor the veterans in the community. Approximately 50 people attended, mainly veterans and their wives.
KHAS president Gloria Han said that it is important to honor the veterans.
“We need to bring back awareness to the community. It is important for the community to know about the [veterans’] sacrifices,” Han said.
Mike Baldwin, who served in the Vietnam War and is a member of American Legion 288 and Veterans of Foreign Wars 1614, said that he enjoys coming to the annual veterans dinner.
“It’s nice to be recognized and it helps the veterans to feel appreciated,” Baldwin said.
From the hanging paper stars to the scattered handwritten notes of appreciation on every table from the KHAS students to the veterans, festive decorations filled the room.
Months of preparation go into organizing this event. The cadets were divided into different committees, such as the food committee and the decorations committee, to get the jobs done. The JROTC fundraises throughout the year to be able to put on the veterans dinner, according to Han.
KHAS member and chairman of the veterans dinner Yaerin Cho welcomed the guests with an opening speech, voicing her appreciation and thanks to the veterans.
The colors were then presented, followed by the prisoners of war/missing in action (POW/MIA) presentation by JROTC liaison Lt. Col. Dave Worley.
“This ceremony is rich with military tradition as we honor those men and women of our Armed Forces who, in the defense of the freedoms of our country and those of the free world, are unaccounted for and are classified as prisoners of war or missing in action,” Lt. Col. Worley told the audience. “All were deprived of their liberties so that you may enjoy yours. We must never forget them.”
“Amazing Grace” was played while Cadet First Lt. Kevin Yang slowly and deliberately made his way up to the empty table at the front of the room set for the POW/MIA army men and women from all American wars. Yang lit a candle to symbolize the frailty of a lone prisoner, trying to survive against his oppressors.
An all-American dinner was prepared by Lt. Col. Worley and his wife Dale and served by the JROTC students and Dale. Hamburgers, hot dogs and salad filled the plates of the veterans. “CA-BB2 Thanks you for your service” was written with red frosting on the chocolate cake served for dessert.
A video of short clips of the cadets was shown. Each student expressed their gratitude, in their own words, to the veterans for their service.
The night concluded with the cadets singing the Air Force song before the audience.
“Off we go, into the wild blue yonder…!” their voices rang out as they smiled and giggled.