Veterans remembered for their service to country
As rain turned to sunshine this morning, South Shore veterans and civilians gathered inside the Stella Van Dyke Johnson American Legion Post 795 to pay respect to all men and women who have served or are currently serving in the U.S. military.
With Margo Osti leading a beautiful rendition of the “Star-Spangled Banner” Chaplain Bob St. Angelo, led the service in prayer.
Nearly 100 gathered in South Lake Tahoe for the anniversary of the armistice, which was signed in the Forest of Compiegne by the allies and the Germans in 1918, ending World War I after four years of conflict. Through various incarnations, Veterans Day became an observed national holiday on May 24, 1964.
And, as he has for years, Gene Ross, commander of the Stella Van Dyke Johnson American Legion Post, gave the opening and closing remarks.
“Each of us is better today because of the influence of a veteran. And so is America. Honor the Americans serving in the military today, honor our veterans, and honor those who, throughout history, paid the ultimate sacrifice to preserve our freedom,” Ross said.
“As a Vietnam veteran, I believe that there is no higher service, no greater purpose, no mission more noble than serving our country in the military,” Ross said.
South Lake Tahoe Police Chief Terry Daniels, who joined the Army in 1974, spoke of Dean Paulson, a former police captain in South Tahoe and U.S. Marine who passed away recently.
“He was a great friend, teacher and best captain at the police department. So for him I say Semper Fi,” Daniels said.
Marine Veteran and VFW Commander Bill Kerr spoke of sacrifice.
“Every veteran has stood ready to give all for our country and they know that a true soldier never welcomes war,” Kerr said. “This nation loves peace. We work and sacrifice for peace. Yet America must always be prepared to confront and defeat the enemies of human freedom. And when war is forced upon us, we will see it through victory.
“Long after their honorable discharge, our veterans still symbolize what it means to be a citizen. Go to any community in this country and you will find veterans in positions of service and leadership. In so many ways, veterans live out the meaning of patriotism and idealism and concern for others.
“Those of us who are the children and grandchildren of veterans have seen those qualities up close,” Kerr said.
El Dorado Supervisor Norma Santiago reflected on her father, a career military man, and the words he imparted to her and her brother and sister about his commitment.
“He told us ‘I choose to serve in the military'” Santiago said. “I never have forgotten that….That’s why it’s important for all us to commit ourselves to those who are returning home.”
Remarks were also given by South Lake Tahoe Mayor Kathay Lovell.
Later, veteran and longtime local Francine Tanner played “Taps” and tearfully spoke of the need to attend the Veterans Day service after her lifelong partner was taken to the hospital last night for a lung ailment.
The ceremony ended when Carol Olivas told of how she recently found a poem called “It is the Soldier” inside her husband, Clarence Olivas, wallet and how it comes to symbolize what veterans means to all Americans:
Chaplain Bob St. Angelo read it for Olivas:
It is the soldier, not the reporter
That has given us freedom of the press.
It is the soldier, not the clergyman
That has given us freedom of religion
It is the soldier, not the campus organizer
That has given us the freedom to demonstrate
It is the soldier, not the lawyer
That has given us the right to a fair trail
It is the soldier who follows the flag into battle,
Who salutes the flag
Whose coffin is draped by the flag
It is the soldier
It has always been the soldier
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