Today marks the 78th American holiday honoring the service of U.S. veterans. The holiday – initially dubbed Armistice Day – was made official by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1938 to honor World War I veterans.
In 1954 the holiday’s name was changed to Veterans Day by President Dwight D. Einsenhower so that “all veterans, all veterans’ organizations and the entire citizenry will wish to join hands in the common purpose” of properly honoring veterans from all wars.
It’s a day particularly near and dear to residents of the Santa Clarita Valley, many of whom are veterans themselves. Several events are scheduled to honor veterans, and one recently wrapped up.
Probably the biggest event is the city of Santa Clarita-hosted solemn ceremony at 11 a.m. today at Veterans Historical Plaza. But earlier today, at 9 a.m., Saugus High School hosts a patriotic concert and unveils its Wall of Honor to memorialize three graduates who died during Operation Iraqi Freedom and to celebrate alumni who have served.
College of the Canyons’ Civic Engagement Club wrapped up a three-day display Thursday to bring students’ attention to the high suicide rate among veterans.
But perhaps nowhere did Santa Clarita Valley residents speak more loudly of their support for veterans than through their outpouring of contributions to SCV Veterans Memorial Inc., which raised funds to build a Fallen Warriors Monument in the park in Newhall where today’s city-sponsored Veterans Day ceremony is scheduled.
It seems particularly fitting that it’s been just a week since organizers of the Fallen Warriors Monument drive announced public donations topped 100 percent of the funds needed to erect the planned $50,000 granite monument in Veterans Memorial Park.
It took a little more than 10 weeks to reach that goal, and some donations are still trickling in, said Bill Reynolds, Vietnam veteran, organizer of the drive for the monument and The Signal’s veterans’ liaison.
“I have witnessed for many years Santa Clarita’s strong sense of patriotism,” Reynolds said this week. “However, seeing how quickly our citizens have supported our Fallen Warriors Monument with their money has really touched me and my associates. $52,000 in just 71 days was jaw-dropping amazing!”
The list of donors numbered 150 by Thursday, ranging from organizations and businesses to individuals, some identifying themselves as veterans of particular conflicts, some donating in honor of family members or friends who died on the battlefield or who survived to enrich the donors’ lives.
Two sets of SCV Gold Star Parents – those who lost sons in post-9/11 conflicts – numbered among the donors. They are Bob and Kay Slocum and Tim and Delia Gelig of the Santa Clarita Valley.
The names of Santa Clarita Valley residents killed in action defending their country from World War II to present numbered 50, Reynolds said – names he discovered in the pages of The Signal by patiently wading through decades of bound volumes. Unfortunately, records from before that were inconclusive.
Santa Clarita city officials, who in August OK’d the monument Reynold proposed in the Newhall park on condition the public fund it, requested the names of SCV’s fallen warriors be confirmed by the federal government before they are engraved in granite, Reynolds said.
A status report on name confirmation could not be obtained Thursday.
Reynolds hopes the monument is completed and installed at Veterans Memorial Plaza in time for the 2017 Memorial Day event.
We urge Santa Clarita Valley residents to attend one or more of the Veterans Day events in the Santa Clarita Valley today to honor veterans and to teach their children to understand and respect their sacrifices.
Check out The Signal’s news pages and the page A2 calendar for more events scheduled today to honor veterans.