Orange County Register — North County News-Tribune; Date: Nov. 21, 2019; Section: News; Page Number: A2
WHAT A DAY
A day shared by so many to remember sacrifices
I attended the Veterans Day Observance in the Placentia Civic Center on November 11th, and I’m glad I did. It occurred over a week ago, but it’s never too late or too early to talk about.
The holiday is unique, in that it is a non-religious observance shared by a number of other countries. In the UK, it is known as Remembrance Day, and in other nations it is Armistice Day.
On the 11th day of the 11th month, we remember our veterans, and the War to end all wars.
Our ceremony began at 10 a.m. and ended at 11. It was a beautiful day, sunny and cool, so I walked to the plaza. I figured I’d get some exercise, even if it was a morning stroll with a cup of coffee.
There was a nice-sized crowd at the Civic Center. Rows of chairs faced a podium, and I could see a lot of older men in military-style jackets. The seats were filling quickly, so I looked for an available chair.
I spotted Jim Paddock, a Navy veteran and a very involved member of the Rotary Club. There was an empty seat beside him. I sat and chatted a little before the program began. He told me that next year, he will be the keynote speaker at this event.
I told him I’d be there to hear him.
It was a solemn ceremony, with bits of humor thrown in. Neel Schmitt, the Chairperson of the Veterans Advisory Committee, was the emcee and did a wonderful job of keeping everything flowing at a steady pace.
When he asked for veterans from different wars to stand, I was surprised to see two vets from WWII. And when the vets from the Vietnam War stood, I realized that the “older men in military-style jackets” were my age.
There were two student speakers, Brandon Kwon from Valencia High School, and Lia Mimum from El Dorado. These young people gave passionate speeches about understanding what the military does for them, even while they struggle to imagine the sacrifice that is required.
I’m sure their words rang true for so many of us civilians.
Keynote speaker Jo-Anne Martin dovetailed perfectly into their remarks with her speech about what it meant to be in the military. She served in the US Air Force for 21 years, flying missions in the first Gulf War.
Jo-Anne spoke of the difficulties, and the serious nature of going into battle. She told a few personal anecdotes about losing soldiers, and preparing for losses and injuries. It was a perfect answer to the earlier speeches, about imagining the sacrifice.
For all of that, her speech was not grim. She told us about things that got them through dark days. One of them was humor. She gave us a couple of examples of military humor that helped them lighten their load.
The other was being able to work with other nations toward a common goal, and getting to know the members of allied countries’ militaries. They shared their foods, their cultures, and their ideas, reminding everyone that they were in this experience together.
It was a brilliant remembrance for the rest of us, that honoring our veterans on this day is shared by many of our friends in other nations. I’d like to hope, someday, it will truly be celebrated as the end of all wars.
Longtime Placentia resident Gayle Carline tracks those moments that shape her days as a wife, mom, computer whiz and horsewoman. E-mail her at [email protected].