Veterans Day is more than just a date on the calendar. It’s a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made by countless brave men and women who donned the uniform, standing in defense of freedom and democracy. It’s a day to reflect, honor and appreciate the immense debt of gratitude we owe to our military veterans who faced adversities head-on, ensuring that the generations that follow could live in a world filled with hope and possibility.
On Saturday, Nov. 11, at 11 a.m., I invite you to join the City Council for our Veterans Day Ceremony held at the beautiful Veterans Historical Plaza in Old Town Newhall, 24275 Walnut St. This is a wonderful ceremony that truly honors and shows sincere support for those who fought for our country, as well as an admirable way to pay tribute to the brave souls who were lost in combat.
On this day, the flags will be ceremoniously replaced by dedicated groups including the Knights of Columbus, Santa Clarita Assembly, Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 355 and the Santa Clarita Valley Young Marines. The Veterans Day Ceremony will also feature musical performances including “The Star-Spangled Banner” and other patriotic songs, along with heartfelt tributes that pay homage to each branch of the military.
In addition to showing your support at the annual Veterans Day Ceremony, there are also other means of showing respect to the members of the community who have proudly served. The city of Santa Clarita’s Commemorative Brick Program is another avenue for community members to honor our veterans. Bricks purchased to be installed at Veterans Historical Plaza serve as lasting tributes to the dedication of the individuals they honor and are thoughtfully positioned along the inner and outer rims within the plaza. Beyond acknowledging veterans for their services, Santa Clarita residents have also utilized these bricks to create memorials for loved ones who made the ultimate sacrifice while in service. For more information about the Commemorative Brick Program, please visit SantaClaritaVeterans.com.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to explore Veterans Historical Plaza, this is the ideal time to do so. Nestled within the heart of Old Town Newhall, the plaza stands as a testament to the sacrifices and bravery of those who have served the nation. The park features lush landscaping, tranquil pathways and seating areas where visitors can relax and reflect. Plaques and monuments scattered throughout offer historical insights and tributes to veterans from various wars and conflicts.
Standing proudly in the center of the plaza is a bronze statue of William J. Johnston Jr., who was presented the Medal of Honor on Sept. 16, 1863, for gallantry in the Seven Day Battle and Peninsula Campaign. “Willie” was a 5-foot-tall, 11-year-old drummer boy in Company D, Third Vermont Volunteers Infantry of the Union Army, when he earned the Congressional Medal of Honor. He alone saved his drum and held his ground, and his devotion to duty is an inspiration to children and adults alike.
President Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of War Edwin Stanton honored Willie with the following words: “For exemplifying the spirit of all our soldiers, and for serving your country so well. The nation has decided to honor you. May all our citizens demonstrate the devotion shown by this young man.”
Veterans Day is a time for everyone to come together and express our gratitude to the brave individuals who have answered the call of duty. Their service and sacrifice have preserved the American way of life and the freedoms we hold dear. In addition to our Veterans Day Ceremony and Commemorative Brick Program, there are countless ways to honor veterans throughout the year.
As we reflect on the significance of Veterans Day, we must commit ourselves to ensuring that those who have served our nation are never forgotten and receive the assistance and recognition they have earned. To our veterans, from the city of Santa Clarita, thank you.
Councilman Bill Miranda is a member of the Santa Clarita City Council and can be reached at [email protected].