Fall is in full swing, as the leaves on Santa Clarita’s trees change from vibrant green to various colors of crimson, orange and yellow. The crisp autumn air welcomes residents to stroll through the city and enjoy the sights, smells and tastes of the season.
While you are out and about grabbing a bite to eat at one of the many farm-to-table eateries in Old Town Newhall, checking off items on your holiday shopping list at the Westfield Valencia Town Center, participating in fall programming at the Canyon Country Community Center or taking your four-legged friend to the Central Bark Dog Park in Saugus, you may notice that our Hometown Heroes Banners are displayed on our light poles once again.
With Veterans Day approaching, the city of Santa Clarita honors our active-duty military members through the Hometown Heroes Banner Program. Residents can have their military hero recognized in this program by going to heroes.santa-clarita.com. While the banners are displayed three times each year for Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Veterans Day, digital banners are available to view on the website all year long. Banners can be purchased by residents for $191, and digital banners can be added to the Hometown Heroes website free of charge.
To show our gratitude to our veteran community, the city offers the Veteran Brick Program. This program invites residents to have the name, branch, rank and military conflict of a loved one engraved on a brick that will be permanently installed at Veterans Historical Plaza, one of the city’s 36 parks.
You can enjoy visiting the plaza to locate your loved one’s brick at a serene location with calming water features, bronze story stations depicting each of our nation’s military conflicts and the Fallen Warriors Monument, which honors Santa Clarita Valley military veterans who were killed in action. As a proud veteran of the United States Air Force, these two programs are very near to my heart.
I want to encourage community members to reflect on the profound history behind this holiday, as well as the service and sacrifice of the many active-duty and veteran military members who call our great city home. Beginning as Armistice Day through a congressional resolution in 1926 and becoming a national holiday in 1938, Veterans Day is celebrated on Nov. 11 every year.
This date was selected to give recognition to the end of World War I, in which fighting ended in the 11th hour, on the 11th day, of the 11th month, in 1918. The transition to this holiday being known as Veterans Day came in 1954.
Every year, our nation observes this holiday and the sacrifices of our veterans with ceremonies and memorials throughout the country. The president of the United States will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery, and here in Santa Clarita, you can join your fellow community members at 11 a.m. at Veterans Historical Plaza in Newhall for the annual Veterans Day ceremony.
This event is hosted in partnership with local veterans organizations, and the ceremony includes musical performers, speakers and the changing of the flags by the Knights of Columbus Santa Clarita Assembly and Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 355.
After the conclusion of the Veterans Day ceremony, residents can continue their recognition of our military members by driving to the Fallen Warriors Memorial Bridge on Newhall Ranch Road in Canyon Country. The Fallen Warriors Memorial Bridge was dedicated to local troops who have died in combat since the terrorist attacks that devastated our nation on Sept. 11, 2001. On the approach to the bridge, you will find our Gold Star Banners, which display the names and faces of fallen heroes from our community. These heroes made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom and our nation and deserve our eternal gratitude.
Another way for residents to share their appreciation for our military community is through the local nonprofit organizations that focus on our veteran community. Consider offering your time to one of these organizations that support our heroes who have given their time to support our country.
Above all this Veterans Day, I hope that each of us finds our own way to share our respect and gratitude for the men and women who have and continue to serve in our nation’s armed forces.
Bill Miranda is a member of the Santa Clarita City Council and can be reached at [email protected].