Veterans Day Ceremony Filled Pasadena’s Centennial Square with Heroes

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Story and Photography by BRANDON VILLALOVOS

5:29 am | November 12, 2016


“The history of the United States is rich with the deeds of those Pasadena residents that have served in our armed forces with honor and distinction. Today we recognize these courageous men and women who represent the best our nation and community have to offer, and with their service, these veterans have proven that America’s freedoms are worth protecting,” said Mayor Terry Tornek at the steps of City Hall’s Centennial Square Friday morning.


The City of Pasadena’s Veteran’s Day Ceremony brought residents, active duty members, retired veterans and city personnel together for a special hour of appreciation for the men and women that served our country.

“To those of you who were or are members of our armed services, you have sacrificed so much so that we can enjoy our freedom as a nation. We cannot thank you enough for what you’ve done for our country,” said Congresswoman Judy Chu.

The ceremony’s special guest speaker was Brig. Gen. Paul Lebidine, Commanding General, 4th Marine Division, USMC and notable attendees included Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek and other Councilmembers, local veterans, Pasadena City College veteran students, the Blair High School Army JROTC, members of the Pasadena Police and Fire Departments and the 2nd Battalion, 23rd Division, USMC, based in Pasadena.

“It’s my privilege today to be a part of this ceremony to recognize our veterans that have served us with honor, distinction, valor and patriotism. As long as we have great cities such as Pasadena, their sacrifices and service will never be forgotten,’ said Brig. Gen. Paul Lebidine, Commanding General, 4th Marine Division, USMC.

Members of the Pasadena Navy League, Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 446 in Pasadena, the Tuskegee Airmen, and the American Legion Pasadena Post 13 will also joined the ceremonies in honor of all veterans here and across the nation.

Blair student Endure Scott (in uniform) with his uncle James Ruiz, Jr., a U.S. Army Sergeant Veteran with two overseas tour, and his Ruiz's children. Photo: Natalie M Ruiz. Image: Natalie M. Ruiz

“My military experience really changed my life positively and forever. As military veterans, we all recognize and understand that truth and honesty are central values in our lives and that we live our lives with this principal, foremost, each and every day,” said former Pasadena Mayor Bill Thomson.

There are approximately 40,000 veterans in the San Gabriel Valley alone with 31 soldiers from Pasadena documented as killed and/or missing in action during the Vietnam War.

“Putting on a uniform, leaving behind family, friends and loved ones and standing in harm’s way to defend our country is a noble sacrifice that cannot be duly repaid,” District 3 Councilmember John Kennedy said in a statement on Friday. “On this Veterans Day, I rise in salute to honor the brave men and women, and their families, who courageously answer the Call of Duty to serve our country. Thank you for your service and for everything you do to make America Great!”

The Blair High School Junior ROTC lead off this year’s commemoration with the theme “Pasadena Salutes Our Veterans!” and performed snippets of classic pieces of music that identify with various branches of the military such as the Army, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard.

For many, this ceremony was not only a chance to take a moment and recognize our vets, but to also look forward into the future and how we can continue to improve their lives.

“We must do everything we can for the twenty one million veterans who served in the armed services in World War II, Korea, Vietnam and those who are now returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. We must begin by helping our returning veterans find jobs,” said Chu.

Chu recently hosted her annual job fair called “Job Hunter Bootcamp” that included over fifty employers looking to hire right away. Chu was able to provide veterans with a dedicated workshop for finding employment.

“We will work year round to make sure that veterans are able to get jobs through organizations like the employment development department and we must help veterans get the health care they deserve. It is a top priority for me to bring a veterans health clinic to the San Gabriel Valley,” said Chu.

The ceremony concluded with a special six plane fly-over by the “Condor Squadron” World War II T-6 planes in formation above city hall.

“Above the fray of this last week, there certainly is some common ground and understanding that America’s freedoms are worth protecting and are never free. Veteran’s Day is a time for all of us to simply say ‘thank you’ to some wonderful Americans,” said Lebidine.