November 11, 2014 -- TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. - The sun shined on a picturesque day as the national anthem was sung and the Combat Center color guard presented the American flag. A sense of patriotism and pride was felt over the crowd of veterans, active-duty service members and civilians at the 15th Annual Morongo Basin Veterans Day Tribute at the Yucca Valley community center in Yucca Valley, Calif., Nov. 11, 2014.
The event alternates where it is held each year between Yucca Valley and Twentynine Palms, California. It offered static displays of military vehicles and equipment like the Logistics Vehicle System Replacement, a Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement and a High Mobility Multi-purposed Wheeled Vehicle from the Combat Center and other vehicles from law-enforcement agencies in the area along with a free barbecue lunch.
“The tribute ceremony is held to take a moment and recognize the efforts of veterans that have served in the past and present,” said Curtis Yakimow, Yucca Valley town manager and a coordinator for the Veterans Day tribute.
Mayor Robert Lombardo, Yucca Valley mayor, was the master of ceremonies and Col. John Kasperski, assistant chief of staff of G-4 installation and logistics, was the guest speaker.
“I love this event and it is good that the community does this for veterans,” said retired Army Spc. Peter Schmuckle, a Purple Heart Medal recipient and guest at the Tribute Ceremony. “Coming home from Vietnam, a lot of us did not have this type of support or homecoming. I’m glad that the community puts on this event for people like me, we really appreciate it.”
Veterans Day was created to thank all service members for preserving freedom. The holiday is celebrated by communities thanking service members, past and present, in different ways.
More than 400 people were present at the event, including Veterans from every branch of service, who served in conflicts from WWII to Operation Enduring Freedom.
“The event is brief but meaningful,” Yakimow said. “It is a [Morongo] basin-wide approach to thank the veterans and make everyone feel like one community.”
As the Veterans Day event wrapped up, smiles and thankfulness could be seen on the faces of veterans present. For some who did not receive a proper "thank you" when they returned home, the tribute gave them that and more.