Veterans from World War II to current servicemen and their families gathered to honor Santa Clarita’s veterans and to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I at the Veterans Historical Plaza in Newhall.
The event featured speeches from city officials and servicemen, several patriotic songs and a changing of the flags with a color guard presented by the Knights of Columbus Santa Clarita Assembly. Replica WWI dog tags and poppies were handed out to help commemorate the occasion.
“World War I was at a time when LA County was very isolated and most of this area was farmers and miners, and over 300 boys from our county did not come back,” said Mayor Laurene Weste. “Nobody had ever faced a war like that before and we were never the same worldwide. We have never acknowledged the WWI veterans who died in LA county, so it’s important to me to not forget them because if they had not fought for peace, we would never had survived.”
Weste said the veterans are honorable, essential citizens and that having a robust veteran population in Santa Clarita adds a sense of patriotism and honor to the community.
One such veteran, Dick Ramsey, served with his brothers in the Navy during WWII and said that the event helped him honor his father who served during WWI. Ramsey was given the flag presented at last year’s ceremony during the changing of the flags.
Jerry Rhodes, who served in the Army during the Vietnam War, gave a reading of the war poem “In Flanders Fields” and dressed in a replica WWI “doughboy” uniform from Eastern Costume. Rhodes said that the doughboy uniform was vastly different than the one he wore and that it was hard to imagine fighting in while wearing it.
“We need to remember why we fought these wars and the sacrifices that were made and give back,” Rhodes said. “I’m grateful that I made it back from Vietnam but there are a lot of guys who didn’t. I love and am astounded by how supportive Santa Clarita is to veterans. We didn’t get that when we came home.”
Weste emphasized the importance of thanking and honoring members of the military, and not just during Veterans Day. She advised people to volunteer with organizations that provide aid to veterans, sending care packages or even just giving a friendly hello.
“This is my country, and it’s your country, and I really believe in celebrating the veterans, some who made it back and others who didn’t,” she said. “If there’s a veteran anywhere in the world, then I’m going to do what I can to honor them.”