By Brandon HENSLEY
One by one, they were given pieces of the American flag. Red stripes, white stripes, the blue field and the stars. Then, one by one, they laid their pieces on the fire, to show remembrance and gratitude.
So was the scene last Thursday, as CV residents gathered at Two Strike Park for a Veterans Day ceremony. The day was organized by Mike Baldwin of the American Legion Post 288, Warren Spayth, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) post commander, Post 1614, and VFW assistant quartermaster Roy Allmon. It was the fourth consecutive Veterans Day ceremony held at the park.
A vigil took place from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., and then a POW/MIA ceremonial table setting was held.
“I still get tears in my eyes,” said Allmon, a veteran who lost friends in the Vietnam War, about the table setting. “I’ve seen it probably 50 times.”
The CV High School ROTC presented the setting, and their leader, Capt. David Worley, identified the significance of what was shown to the crowd.
“The table is round to show our concern for them is never ending,” Worley said. “The tablecloth is white, symbolizing the purity of their intentions to respond to their country’s call to arms so that their children can remain free.
“The lone candle symbolizes the frailty of a prisoner alone, trying to stand up against his oppressors. The candle and the yellow ribbon on the candle reminds us of those who will not be coming home.”
Red roses were placed for “comrades in arms who keep the faith.” There were red ribbons to show the love of America. Black napkins symbolized emptiness in the hearts of family and friends.
Afterward, Bob Fletcher, assistant Scout Master for Boy Scout Troop 288, read aloud the poem, “I Am Your Flag.” People who were given pieces of an American flag before the ceremony by Boy Scouts put their cloth into a fire pit when the poem reached the parts of specific colors.
“We the American people have stayed true to the values the American flag represents,” said Fletcher, who served in the Army in the 1970s. “We should always value the sacrifices that have been made for our flag and the country that it represents.”
The ceremony was held in front of the War Memorial plaque that was dedicated to the park in 1959, but Baldwin and his people have a desire to see a bigger, more involved dedication put in its place.
They will soon be installing a wall.
“We would like to have the names of all the men and woman who have been lost at war from the Crescenta Valley area,” said Baldwin. “It needs to be updated, and repaired. That’s what we’re trying to do.”
Those who were lost in battle will be included from World War I and World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam.
Allmon said when they began organizing annual war ceremonies, which also includes one for Memorial Day, “We got to say, ‘If we’re going to redo the War Memorial, and we want the public involved in it, we need to have a service up here.’”
Donations are currently being accepted by the VFW Post 1614 and the American Legion Post 288. Construction is expected to start by the end of the year. The tax-deductible donation can be mailed to War Memorial Fund, P.O. Box 12182, La Crescenta, CA 91224.