As cars drove through the Bella Vida Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center parking lot Tuesday, in honor of Veterans Day, veterans raised the flag to thank the men and women who have served.
Though not the usual festivities, the Senior Center felt it was important to find a way to recognize the sacrifices made, as many of its guests are veterans themselves.
“Despite the pandemic, we’ve got to continue to honor and show our gratitude in any way, shape or form — we do it for these guys,” Kevin MacDonald, executive director of the Senior Center, said, gesturing to the veterans who participated in the ceremony. “If we can impact one life, it’s all worth it, and obviously they’ve impacted ours.”
Seniors were invited to join in a distanced ceremony from the safety of their cars before the center held its daily lunch drive thru.
As Air Force veteran Ken Asam, chair of the Senior Center Veterans Committee, addressed the cars that lined the parking lot, his gratitude to all those who have served was met with car horn honks in support.
“It’s an honor to be part of the planning and execution of today’s program,” he added.
MacDonald, joined by Asam and Vietnam Army veteran Fred Gesin, then raised the flag as the national anthem played, with many of the seniors and veterans getting out of their vehicles to salute and wave flags.
As patriotic music played following the ceremony, each veteran who drove through to pick up their lunch was given a flag and thank you card.
For longtime volunteer Gesin, it was a special occasion for him to be back at the Senior Center for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
“I really miss it,” Gesin said. “Veterans aren’t recognized the way they used to be, and we still have to do something to keep that going. … So it just means everything to me to see these people out here.”