Veterans Day: Longtime VFW, community tradition Saturday

November 08, 2006
Santa Paula News

A longtime community tradition staged by the Mercer-Prieto VFW Post 2043 Veterans Day Observance will be held on Saturday come rain or shine, according to a Post spokesman.

By Peggy KellySanta Paula TimesA longtime community tradition staged by the Mercer-Prieto VFW Post 2043 Veterans Day Observance will be held on Saturday come rain or shine, according to a Post spokesman.The Nov. 11 Veterans Day Observance will be held at Veterans Memorial Park and start at 10:30 a.m. with a concert of patriotic music by the Santa Paula High School Band.An added event at this year’s observance is the awarding of a special medallion to those World War II veterans who served in Islands of the Marianas, the scene of some of the fiercest battles of World War II.The medallions - created by a VFW Post in Saipan - are to mark the 60th Commemorative of the end of the war in the Islands and to show gratitude to the fighting forces.The presentation of the medals will be held immediately following “Taps” played by bugler Rudy Arellano.VFW Post Commander Jack B. Schneider will welcome the attendees and give a brief history of Veterans Day before the SPHS Band and Isbell Middle School Condor Chorus performs “The Star Spangled Banner.”The Condor Chorus will perform several other patriotic songs before the Memorial Ceremony, the Roll Call and VFW responses of “Here!” in honor of the 84 Santa Paulans who lost their lives in conflicts ranging from World War 1 to Vietnam.
The Roll Call is the “Main thing,” noted Post Quartermaster/Adjutant Richard Ruiz. “We had some times that it was only us because it rained on Veterans Day. But we were’s respect for the veterans, that’s why we do it,” so that the sacrifices of those lost in war will never be forgotten.After the Roll Call, Commander Schneider and Korean War Veterans Association Ventura County Chapter 56 Commander David Lopez will oversee the Placement of the Wreaths.VFW Post Chaplain John Bailey will offer a prayer before the Salute from the Rifle Squad.After more musical entertainment a reception will be held hosted by Soroptimist International of Santa Paula.Ruiz said that the Veterans Day Observance used to be held at Santa Paula Cemetery: “It goes way back to the 1940s,” when the Post - chartered in 1931 - combined Memorial Day and Veterans Day into one observance.“When I joined the Post in 1961 the observances were still combined...the Post had been doing the Memorial Day Observance since about 1936,” but the decision was later made to separate the two observances and move the Veterans Day ceremony to the park created by the VFW Post.A Korean War veteran, Ruiz said he and other Post members “really appreciate the community support we get at the Veterans Day Observance,” especially since the commemoration has changed over the years to “be another reason for a big sale. To some it’s another day off, another shopping’s not like it used to be. So whatever the turnout we appreciate it...we’re just out there to honor the veterans.”And, added Ruiz, “We’re keeping our fingers crossed so there’s no rain on us.”

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