Hesperia’s annual Veterans Day ceremony was held at Hesperia Lake Park on November 11, organized by AMVETS Post 2007.
This year’s guest speaker was Master Sgt. Rober Jackson, a retired Marine. He is also the current public affairs officer at the Marine Corps Logistics Base in Barstow.
Local students from Sultant High School ROTC performed the presentation of colors, after which everyone said the Pledge of Allegiance, led by Post 2007 Commander Larry Thompson.
Cedar Middle School teacher Sarah Allsman three introduced students from her class who had written appreciation letters to anonymous veterans, and were willing to read out-loud at the microphone.
Master Sgt. Jackson talked about his experiences in the military, saying he believed he made a good choice by joining. He also brought up the fact that this year is the 50th anniversary of America’s entry into the Vietnam War. He acknowledged how hard it can be for some to re-adjust to civilian life after serving and how “It’s up to us to show them where to go and how to get taken care of.”
The Sultana ROTC performed a flag-folding ceremony, led by Cadet Lt. Col. Celeste Ramirez, Post 2007 Chaplain Page Stieringer led a benediction, and then doves were then released into the sky by Bob and Verna Chandler.
The 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment from the Fort Irwin Army post gave a gun salute, followed by the playing of “Taps.”
Commander Lee Williams, owner of the Operation Killed In Action Memorial Project, gave information about the on-site memorial featuring four military helmets, rifles and pairs of boots.
The 19th Annual Veterans Day Parade rolled down Victorville’s 7th Street to kick of a set of events on November 11, with marching bands, floats, military vehicles, representing many local veterans groups, schools, dignitaries and individuals.
Following the parade was a ceremony at the Soldier memorial, and veterans and friends were honored by the Old Town Route 66 Historical Society afterwards with music, memorabilia, and a free hot dog lunch.
Several hundred onlookers waved American flags, saluted, or cheered veterans during the parade.
The University Preparatory band played a military medley that brought back memories for many attendees.
There were over 30 parade entries, including Congressman Paul Cook riding in a humvee.
Victorville Mayor Gloria Garcia welcomed a large crowd of people in front of the Victorville Veterans Memorial named, “For the Price of Freedom,” a lifesize bronze sculpture titled by artist Ismael Rodriguez, and commissioned by Felix Diaz in honor of his brother.
The Victor Valley High School Air Force JROTC held a flag raising ceremony. Congressman Cook gave the keynote speech, saying Veterans Day is the time to acknowledges our men and women in uniform.
The Hi-Desert Harmonaires sang several patriotic songs, including “God Bless America,” while the crowd joined in.
First District Supervisor Robert Lovingood spoke of a collaborative effort between the county sheriff’s Hope Team and the Department of Veterans Affairs which has reduced the number of homeless veterans from 401 to 177, spending $358,000 to accomplish the task.
He expects all to have homes within a year.
Local pastor Hector Gonzales presented Army Veteran Manuel F. Martinez Jr. with an award featuring three soldier figurines, who as a 20-year-old in 1966 was badly wounded in Vietnam trying to save others.
Martinez then presented Army Veteran John Q. Varela with a painting depicting two moments in time: A battlefield in Vietnam and a group of elderly veterans.
Col. Kevin Jacobi gave an inspirational reading of “Tribute to Old Glory,” by retired USAF Chief Master Sgt. Johnny Lewis.
Felix Diaz closed out the event, speaking of the memorial he founded nearly 20 years ago.
A 12-year-old boy scout, Isaac Lehndorfer, ended the ceremony by volunteering to play “Taps” on his bugle after it was announced there was no one present who could do it.
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Valley Crest – On November 9, Valley Crest Memory Care in Apple Valley presented a ceremony honoring veterans living in the facility. Youth from ROTC performed a flag folding ceremony. Gentiva Hospice was also a major sponsor of the event.
Residents and staff alike were extremely touched by during the event, as awards were given to those who served their country during their younger years.
Rock Spring Retirement Living – honored its veteran residents during a ceremony on November on November 12. The event featured a flag folding ceremony, and awards were presented to each veteran present. A harpist played and refreshments were served a the ceremony.
Foremost Senior Campus – Veterans at Foremost Senior Campus were honored November 8 in a ceremony sponsored by Foremost and Gentiva, and hosted by Sultana High School ROTM.
Receiving recognition were 26 attendees, including one resident. The Pledge of Allegiance and National Anthem were followed by a rifle performances and a flag folding demonstration. Refreshments followed the ceremony.
Sterling Inn – The community bus took 11 Veteran residents to the 19th Annual Tri-Community Kiwanis Veterans Dinner on November 4. The guests were loaded into the bus and taken to Serrano High School for a fantastic meal, served by Snowline School District students of history teacher and historian, Todd Anton.
The students, parents and employees served a gymnasium full of guests, who were treated to a night of honor and tribute.
The local 4H Club gave handmade fleece scarves to each veteran, and sent more home to share with those who couldn’t come.
Sterling Inn’s veterans are still singing praises for the efforts of those involved. All slept well that evening after shaking hands, sharing stories, posing for pictures, and signing numerous autographs.
It was amazing to watch those young people honor the heroes for their service to this country, and learning that “Freedom is Not Free.”
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