Twentynine Palms -- On June 1, 1954, the United States Congress declared that the 11 of November would be known as Veterans Day, a federal holiday for Americans to pay homage to those who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces. On Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017 the residents of Big Bear Lake did just that, in a ceremony that included numerous veterans from past and present conflicts.
The ceremony commenced with an invocation given by Russell Lewis, the chaplain for American Legion Post 583. Following Lewis, Maj. Gen. William F. Mullen III, Commanding General, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Bill Jahn, Mayor of Big Bear Lake and a retired U.S. Navy Commander, and U.S. Representative Paul Cook, a retired Marine Corps colonel all shared their sentiments on the holiday. The three speakers’ themes were very common; their talks focused on the importance of the holiday and the veterans who have fought for our country.
“The year this holiday becomes about barbecues and parties, then we will no longer exist as Americans,” Mullen said. “We need to take the time to appreciate what these remarkable men and women have done for our country.”
During the event, Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow provided a color guard for the ceremony, the national anthem was sung by the local Big Bear High School choir, and members from local veterans’ organizations including the American Legion and the Marine Corps League were recognized.
“It’s a great privilege to be here among so many who have served, and it’s awesome to see these young men and women volunteer their time to serve our community and our veterans,” said Edward Ryan, a U.S. Army veteran who served in Vietnam.
The ceremony concluded with the dedication of a Gold Star Family memorial at Veterans Park.
“It’s the sacrifices that their loved ones have made that makes this country truly remarkable,” Cook said. “Unlike all of us here, they paid the ultimate sacrifice and gave their life for our country. We are grateful for their self-sacrifice and courage, and it’s our duty today to pay homage to those who gave all for America.”