RIVERSIDE (CBSLA.com) — From the San Fernando Valley to Costa Mesa to Riverside to Dodger Stadium, members of the military were honored — and remembered — Monday at Veterans Day events.
At Riverside National Cemetery, four generations of one family came to honor Armando Sosa, a husband, father, grandfather and military veteran who served in World War II.
“He just was an awesome, special person,” said Sylvia Salazar, Sosa’s daughter.
“He went to England; my mom’s a war bride,” she said. “My brother was born there, I was born here. You couldn’t ask for a nicer person. Just always willing to be there. Very kind, giving.”
At times the tone was somber. There was a special call to remember prisoners of war, especially those who remain missing.
“I try to come out here to honor the guys that I know that were lost,” said John Marlin, a Naval flight officer who served in Vietnam from 1966 to 1967. “A whole lot of pilots that I saw go down over North [Vietnam], and of course the two guys in my squadron that were shot down.”
The 54th Annual Veterans Day Program at Forest Lawn Cemetery featured a job fair, military displays and airplane flyovers. Hundred turned out for the commemoration, with many wearing uniforms or medals indicating their service. KNX 1070’s Ed Mertz reports some veterans arrived by parachute to address the crowd.
Lots of children also attended the event. One kindergarten teacher who brought her students to the event said it has become a tradition with her classes to pass out pictures and messages to veterans, thanking them for their service.
“Freedom is not free, but [it exists] because the price that was paid on the battlefield, and those who served away from their loved ones,” Air Force Chaplain William Taguchi said.
In the San Fernando Valley, spectators young and old waved the Stars and Stripes as military veterans from every branch and wartime era made their way along the more than one mile route from Laurel Canyon Boulevard and San Fernando Mission Road to the Ritchie Valens Recreation Center and Park.
KNX 1070’s Margaret Carrero reports that the World War II-era Condors that flew overhead were a big hit with the crowd.
For Belinda Rodarte, this year’s Veterans Day was bittersweet. Her father-in-law, a WWII vet, passed away this year at age 92.
“I would pick him up and bring him here and he would enjoy himself tremendously,” said Rodarte, who attended this year to cheer on her husband, who served in the Navy in Vietnam.
At Dodger Stadium, retired major-leaguers treated about 100 vets to a batting practice session, while in Costa Mesa, the US Postal Service unveiled a World War II Medal of Honor stamp. And in Long Beach, the VA Medical Center marked the day with a celebration that included gifts, music and a feast worthy of Thanksgiving.
Restaurant owner Frank Garcia said his restaurant, La Casa Garcia, provided about 3,000 plates of turkey, ham, vegetables and pie.
“It’s the people who go out of their way to do things like this for us,” said veteran and VA patient Phillip Garcia. “I think that for those people, I’d like to salute them. They’re beyond the call of duty.”
For the first time ever, patients at the hospital’s Spinal Cord Injury Center were able to participate in the celebrations, thanks in part to Aliso Viejo resident Jessica Daza-Chacon. Daza-Chacon’s brother Edwin, a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army, was killed in Afghanistan seven years ago.
“It was very important that on this special day, Veterans Day, they get a homemade hot meal to them,” she said.
The Daza-Chacon family cooked a pasta dinner for dozens of veterans, many of whom are bedridden and weren’t able to attend the event held outside.
Odyssey Experience, an organization offering community service opportunities, also took part in the event. Boy Scouts from Buena Park and Cypress greeted patients like paraplegic Douglas Harris, who served his country for 22 years.
“These guys have given us an opportunity to see what the future is about,” Harris said.