Last week’s column

Orange County Reg­is­ter — North County News-Tribune; Date: Nov. 21, 2019; Sec­tion: News; Page Num­ber: A2

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].

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