Hundreds attend annual Veteran's Day observance.
Hundreds of veterans and their families gathered at the Veterans
in Old Town Newhall Tuesday to honor the servicemen and women of America.
The Veteran’s Day program provided the structure for a
respectful observance, beginning with a two-minute moment of silence and a
changing of the flags around the half-moon courtyard.
Before the ceremonies and long after the last strain of music
wafted away, veterans spotted old friends or made new ones when they discovered
they’d served close by or had a friend or relative in common.
The guest of honor, and bearer of the new American flag
raised during the ceremony, was Canyon Country resident and Purple Heart
recipient Tony Marincola, who participated in the Battle
of the Bulge with the Army’s 17th Airborne Division. The 92-year old veteran
was decked out in his full dress uniform, something many of the men in
attendance looked upon with a little envy.
Mayor Bob Kellar, who served in the Army, welcomed those
gathered with a history lesson about the Star Spangled Banner, reading
forgotten verses that took on a new vibrant meaning in light of the holiday.
There was no shortage of patriotic music, as the national
anthem was sung by COC student Megan Mills, folk singer Trish Lester sang “Thank
A Soldier,” siblings Brynn, Charlie and Ever Fecske did an a cappella version
of “God Bless The USA” and the Canyon High Madrigals sang “God Bless America.” Several
veterans softly added their voices to the hymn-like performance by the high
Marine Dick Jeffrey, a member of the Santa Clarita Veteran’s
Memorial Committee, started out with a smile, but had to choke back tears when
acknowledging the crowd.
“I would like every American veteran to stand up and be
recognized. God bless you one and all; thank you for your service, we’re proud
of you every day we’re proud of you. Thanks gentlemen and ladies.
“I, too, am an American veteran,” he said. “I am a soldier,
a sailor, a Marine, an airman, guardsman and mariner. I am a Republican, I am a
Democrat and an Independent. I am of every gender, color and religion. Most of
all, I am an American. I do not seek conflict nor rush its time in history, but
have always answered the call to arms whenever America beckoned, I swore to
protect her borders, citizens and principles against all those who would mean
“All I ask of you who sent me in harms way is your steadfast
support during the battle, your help to heal my wounds and your respect when
the battle is over. Let history remember me by my valor and devotion and let
history remember you by how you honored us. To you gathered here today, I thank
you for honoring us.”
A handful of children read messages of thanks to the
veterans, one of them dressed in her Young Marines uniform. Councilwoman
Laurene Weste reminded guests of the process that brought everyone to this park
in just three short years.
“My heart is joyous to see so many of you here today,” she
said. “I worked with Senator George Runner to secure a $250,000 grant so the
city could purchase the land. Our city knew there was a story to be told here
and we all gathered here on May 28,
2005 for the dedication.”
Weste pointed out a series of story stations that are being
developed around the park walkway, depicting various wars in America’s
“The stations tell the history of our country’s commitment
to freedom and our desire to pass it on,” she said. The wars featured span from
the American Revolution and War of 1812 through the World Wars, Vietnam
and Persian Gulf, with one blank station to be developed
for the Iraq War. Each station was sponsored by a community group or
individuals, but Weste said that the last station will be dedicated in honor of
Marine Lance Corporal Ricky Slocum, who died in 2004 in Iraq.
“May we as Americans possess the integrity, strength and
courage to remain committed to freedom, so valiantly fought for by our
veterans. This place is a tribute to you, we thank you,” Weste concluded.
To cap off the event, Councilmember Marsha McLean asked veterans of each era to stand as their decade was announced. A group picture, which overwhelmed the park, was taken at the end of the ceremonies of all the veterans in attendance.