Co-sponsored by the City of Alhambra and Alhambra’s American Legion Post #139 (under Commander Gilbert Cardoza), the ceremony opened, as always (following a musical interlude provided by the Alhambra High School “Mighty Moors Marching Band,” under Director of Bands Mark Trulson) with the presentation of the ceremonial wreath of flowers (presented by Alhambra Mayor Barbara Messina and 1st Vice Officer Joe Duran of the American Legion Post) and the “Posting of the Colors,” led by bagpiper Forrest Cormany and presented by the Alhambra Police Department Color Guard, members of the American Legion Post, and members of Boy Scout Troup #201.
Mayor Messina’s remarks reflected the thoughts of all in attendance:
“Good morning ladies and gentlemen! On behalf of the City of Alhambra and the American Legion Post 139, I welcome you today as we recognize those amongst us who have given themselves in service to our nation – our veterans, active-duty service members, guardsmen and reservist. All your sacrifices, and those of your families, have helped to keep our country safe and free.
The American experience is unique because we have rarely experienced the enemy on our soil or at our gates. Our citizens do not live in fear of the atrocities of violent conflict, experienced daily by so many other nations around the world. We have our military men and women to thank for that. They never give up the fight for us.
There’s something to be said for that kind of tenacity. Babe Ruth once said, “You just can’t beat the person who never gives up”.
If that doesn’t capture the spirit of the American soldier and the American veteran, I don’t’ know what does.
Next month we commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. More than 2,400 people died and more than 1,100 were wounded in the attack. And we know that date, Dec. 7, 1941 – which has indeed lived in infamy – This was the turning point for this nation’s involvement in the war as well as for many of her sons and daughters.
Those men and women were ordinary people, until they heard the call of duty and answered it. They left their families, their home, and their lives, not for recognition or fame or even the honor we bestow upon them today. They fought to protect our country.
As we honor our veterans and remember their great deeds, let us also salute those who are currently fighting for our freedom.
Veterans Day isn’t just a day for veterans – It’s a day for all Americans. It’s a day to remember why they were fighting and why we continue to fight. It’s a day for all of us to begin our journey of protecting our freedom and the freedom of many future generations. On this day and every day, we thank you!
God bless our veterans and your families. And God bless the United States of America.”
The most amazing – and moving – moment of each Veterans Day ceremony is when the veterans are invited to come forward for a group picture – the gathering continually growing, in size better suited to several (not one) group pictures. There, together, are men and women, young and old, some in uniform (most not), many with extensive rows of service ribbons – but all with a common attribute – the pride of having given their utmost efforts to insuring the continued safety and security of their beloved United States of America and its citizens. Mayor Messina’s message of thanks resonates!
Two very special Alhambra residents guests in attendance were especially noted – Larry Stephens, a retired Alhambra Fire Department Firefighter who flew 35 WWII missions as a B-17 gunner, and Zelda Weiss who was one of the very first woman members of the U.S. Marine Corps.
A special feature of this year’s Veterans Day program was the “Flag Folding Ceremony” demonstrated by Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army retired, Jerry W. Pearce, during which the elements of the flag – stars, stripes, colors – were described, and, with each fold of the flag – thirteen in all! – the important symbolism of our national flag became more and more real.
Following a Closing Invocation by American Legion Post Chaplain Tim Dietz, a light meal was served to attendees, music was provided by Pete Jacobs and the Wartime Radio Singers, and, later in the day, an open house was held at American Legion Post #139.