The Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the city of Santa Clarita honored local veterans for their service to the nation and leadership in the SCV business community through the 12th annual Salute to Patriots.
The chamber and the city honored Fred Gesin, Ray Mitchell, Charles Rasmussen, Alex Siggins, Dennis Sugasawara and Constance Werthe at the SCV Senior Center at Bella Vida on Nov. 9.
“This is our 12th annual Salute to Patriots event where we have the opportunity to honor these veterans who have gone out and have just served our country and have come back to serve our business community in Santa Clarita,” said John Musella, president and chief strategist of the SCV Chamber of Commerce.
“Veterans really help to make our communities safer, better and stronger because of the experience they’ve had and what they’ve done for our country. They come back and serve us again, here, at home.”
According to Musella, the event is a “really special” opportunity for the chamber and city to recognize veterans in the SCV. The Saugus High School ROTC welcomed attendees and Hart High School senior Claire Tester sang the national anthem.
“I was a little nervous, but I want to make sure I do my absolute best because they are so great,” Tester said.
Santa Clarita Mayor Laurene Weste opened up the ceremony with a few words thanking both veterans and the SCV Chamber of Commerce.
“Over the past 35 years, our city has worked collaboratively and tirelessly with the chamber to assess and address the needs and concerns of our business owners — leading to a thriving local economy,” Weste said.
“Our chamber is strong and successful due to its members, many of whom are proud veterans of our military,” Weste added. “Our veterans exemplify the multitude of qualities that make our communities a much better place to live. Among these are courage, dedication, leadership and strategic thinking skills.”
Stephanie English, a representative for Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, 5th District, which includes the SCV, presented a plaque on behalf of the first honoree Gesin and his wife Janet.
“Retired Lt. Colonel Fred Gesin was born in Oklahoma, never guessing that someday he would be in Germany, Turkey and Vietnam, and beyond, courageously serving our nation,” English said.
English shared Gesin’s military career achievements and pieces of his life. Fred continues to offer service by being a vital part of the Santa Clarita community, English added.
“Thank you all for coming and recognizing all the veterans here,” Gesin said. “Thank you for your service and I want to add one group to the list, all the spouses and dependents of those veterans that had to put up with everything we did for our careers.”
“Janet and my kids and I only moved 10 times in 20 years,” he added.
Each of the remaining honorees were introduced by someone close to them. Those individuals then shared some history about their honoree — military background, family history and obstacles they overcame and successes in their life.
Each honoree also got the opportunity to share some words with those in attendance.