A few hundred congregated at the park, where several white benches were spread out for the community’s veterans. Others stood and watched in a semi-circle as the ceremony commenced.
The event opened with Patterson’s local Color guard troop, which replaced the community’s original American flag with a special memorial American flag, used only to commemorate exceptional events for veterans, including Memorial Day and 9/11. The new flag was previously flown at the United States Capitol, and is considered a treasure by the Legion. The flag flown until Monday evening at the park, only to be taken down for preservation.
Next, the American Heritage girls honored each military branch before posting their colors, with various members of the crowds standing up to their specific call to arms.
Leading the ceremony was Mike Anderson, past-commander and current adjutant for the American Legion Post No. 168. Anderson, who was taking over for Commander Amy Hussar as she was detained in the hospital Monday, presented a passionate and sincere speech about what it meant to serve our country, both abroad and at home.
He told the community of the sacrifices he has witnessed, and shared stories in which his services were not always appreciated. He even recounted an event when, returning home from service, someone spit on his uniform.
Anderson refused to let the act degrade his country or his service. Instead, Anderson actively welcomes home those returning from service, whether he knows them or not. He said the simple act instills pride and allows the youth to experience something that was seldom found during his return home.
“It’s important that our community goes away with a knowledge, and find out who these veterans are,” said Anderson. “We are a small post, but we are active.”
He also actively denounced the fact that the government and the media refused to honor veterans for their patriotism and their past actions, including the invasion of Normandy.
The Normandy American Cemetery is the final resting place for the 9,387 who did not return home from fighting at war’s end. Despite these actions that helped end Nazi rule in World War II, no fly-overs were conducted over the cemetery, or military honor guards were present at the ceremony to present our nation’s colors on the memorable occasion, and no officials of rank were there to receive recognition for America’s interference.
Instead, budget cuts were the only official reasoning in not celebrating our valiant war efforts, which put Anderson, and many other veterans, in pain and frustration.
“I’m ashamed of what we did at the Normandy celebration. We need an official out there,” said Anderson. “If we start to forget our memorials, we won’t have a Memorial Day.”
As a result of our nation’s lack of involvement, Anderson encouraged everyone in the audience, including the youth, to reach out to veterans as a token of appreciation for their services.
He also encouraged the community to announce when a veteran has passed, so that they may be honored at their funeral service and recorded in the Honor Book.
Various speakers, including Chaplain Robert Slater, Finance Officer Eric Loman, Sergeant-at-Arms Keith Hussar and Mayor Luis Molina added a prayer and honorable praise towards veteran services in the United States Armed Forces.
As an added presentation, the Legion’s youthful counterparts passed the microphone to various Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and American Heritage Girls in an effort to promote unity and freedom across all ages.
“Veterans are a big part of our country,” said Andrew Kramer, a local Boy Scout. “Those are the people who make America America. The veterans we have here before us have done an amazing act. They’ve served, and they deserve the best from us.”
Contact Brooke Borba at 892-6187, ext. 24, or firstname.lastname@example.org.