At City Hall Ceremony, Army Colonel Spells Out What Veterans Have Sacrificed

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By MIKE UY

6:27 am | November 13, 2017


Proud under the morning’s blazing sun, dozens of military veterans and their families joined other members of the military community, first responders, government officials and residents gathered in Centennial Square in front of City Hall on Saturday morning to rekindle camaraderie and respectfully honor Veterans Day.

 

City officials, led by former Mayor Bill Thompson, City Mayor Terry Tornek, Los Angeles County Supervisor Catherine Barger City, Councilmember Gene Masuda and City Manager Steve Mermell were at the event to mingle with the veterans and thank them for the sacrifices they made in service to the country.

Other participants included local Boy and Cub Scouts and representatives from City departments, Pasadena City College, Pasadena Navy League, Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 446, the Tuskegee Airmen, the American Legion Pasadena Post No. 13, the U.S. Marine Corps’ 2nd Battalion 23rd Marine Division, and the Pasadena Senior Center.

The event started at 10:30 a.m. with members of a color guard from the Blair High School ROTC presenting the Stars and Stripes and the colors of the major services of the United States armed forces.

Elderly veterans who could hardly stand, stood up and gave their snappy salutes as the members of the Blair High School band played the Navy and Marine hymns and the Air Force and Army anthems.

The highlight of the event was the speech of Vietnam War veteran and retired highly-decorated U.S. Army Colonel Colonel Keith Nightingale.

In his speech, “Take A Knee,” Nightingale recounted not only his personal experiences as a soldier of 29 years but also focused on making the audience understand what soldiers in service actually give up and sacrifice in answering the call of duty.

“The average age today of our junior enlisted infantry, Army and Marine, both male and female, at the very pointy end of our national bayonet. is 19. How many 19-year-olds do you know that willingly write their will and they also willingly write a blank check of their lives for the rest of us?” said Nightingale.

“Some will be cashed and others not. But it is always to a constantly growing account for which our cemeteries attest. Their tomorrows have been cashed for our todays,” Nightingale said.

Nightingale, who commanded Army Ranger and Airborne units in Vietnam during the Vietnam War, is a recipient of the The French Legion of Honor and the Vietnamese Medal of Honor and was also inducted into the Ranger Hall of Fame.

During his speech, Nightingale recounted his family’s rich military background and how his father, who commanded an artillery unit during the Korean War, had inspired him to join the Army.

“He inspired me to join and I am forever grateful. I am mindful of his troop train departing for Korea at Fort Lewis, holding my mother’s hand and wondering why everybody was crying and listening every night with her and my grandmother to the news of the events.,” he said.

“The smell of paint, Cosmoline, coffee and coal in numerous Army camps throughout my life, directed the lodestone that I followed. My 29 years in uniform were the best that I had served of a long life. And that I believe is shared by anyone who could be credited in saying that they are a vet.”

And even while soldiers may go abroad to fight wars, Nightingale said every soldier thinks of his or her fellow soldier as family.

“Every vet holds a place in his or her heart for a special moment in time where all are equal, altogether in what is today is their family. It was a moment in life when all that mattered was performance and the greatest fear was lack of reputation with your peers,” he said.

“Time and circumstances may shroud that moment but it could never remove it. This is a special place that only a very few may share. The family holds a unique place in the heart and mind of every vet’s memory and will be there at his or her’s last clear moment.”

Nightingale added that as the world’s battlefields have now become more complex and complicated and the nation’s threats becoming more numerous and ambiguous, the greater is the need to honor veterans and those still serving.

“Today the world is vastly different. The battlefields are more infinitely complicated and dangerous. Our threats are numerous, ambiguous, and without easy solutions. Here at home, we have a thin red and blue line that hold back our nation from chaos. Abroad, we have one percent of our population, doing the work for 99 percent so that we may follow our lives without concern,” he said.

“Our nation comes today to record and recall our historic youth. Past, present and future. Some were infantry, some had other skills, services and roles ranging from the famous, to the totally obscure. The color of the uniform though, was all the same. It was all American. For that and not just for today, we should take a knee and be eternally grateful.”

The event ended with flyby in a diamond formation of four World War Two era warplanes over the City Hall grounds. A bugler from the Arroyo High School band then played “Taps” as the service colors were lowered by the color guard from the Blair High School ROTC.