For Lt. Col. P.C. Holland, the commanding officer of the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, a veteran is someone who made the choice to sacrifice a piece of their youth in service to their nation.
“Whether it be in peace or conflict, the veteran raised their right hand and they swore an oath to the Constitution of the United States to support and defend our way of life, and they gave up a part of their youth to do that,” said Holland.
Addressing a group of veterans and their families who gathered at Park Semper Fi on Saturday, Nov. 11, for the City of San Clemente’s Veterans Day ceremony, Holland outlined the rigorous training, duties and deployments servicemembers endure while enlisted in the military.
“They have gone where others will not have gone, where others will not go, and they have done things that others cannot do,” Holland said. “They have suffered the horrors of war with their brothers and sisters in arms. And because of this, they have earned and deserve universal respect and admiration of this country and its citizens.”
The city’s Salute to Veterans event Saturday drew an intimate crowd comprising those who served, their loved ones and local dignitaries, including all five members of the City Council. Reese Emma of San Clemente High sang the National Anthem.
“It’s important that we remember what veterans are. Veterans are people with experience, people who have been through a lot, people in this case who have lost people, lost times in their lives,” Mayor Chris Duncan said.
“And they did all of that for us, they experienced all of that for all of us so that we could have our freedoms,” Duncan continued. “So (I’m) really proud that San Clemente, a military town, and always will be, that we’re able to celebrate our veterans today.”
Councilmbmer Victor Cabral explained how his grandmother, like many grandmothers, adorned a wall in her home with multiple photos of family members, notably his uncles, who had served. Two of his uncles, he noted, served in combat during World War II, and another who served in the 1950s.
For Cabral’s wife, Anna, her father too had served in the Marine Corps in the ’50s. Touching on both he and Anna’s upbringing in Hispanic households, Cabral shared one of his father-in-law’s earliest experiences in the military.
In the first letter Anna’s father sent to his mother after being stationed at Camp Pendleton, he wrote about the amount of work and long hours he and his fellow Marines are put through. But what struck Cabral most in the correspondence was how his father-in-law expressed how he could hardly wait to go on leave so he could enjoy some beans and tortillas back home.
“So I guess we don’t have beans and tortillas on base, maybe we do now, but we didn’t then in the ’50s,” Cabral said with a chuckle. “But those are my experiences, we all share those same experiences. We have family that have suffered, that have committed themselves to military service from World War II … to today … We need to be thankful and grateful to them for what they do.”