Saluting the veterans

Andy Scott had the honor of playing "Amazing Grace" in front of more than 100 people in Pier Plaza on Monday morning.

But the Huntington Beach resident, donned in a traditional Scottish piper's uniform, ran into some technical difficulties during the 13th annual Veterans Day ceremony.

"This reed fell out and went down into the bag, so when I started to play I couldn't get any air," said Scott, who has played at the event for the past 11 years. "It was just a little malfunction. Once I got the reed back and plugged it in, we were ready to go."

More than 50 veterans sitting on the plaza's steps rose to their feet and saluted the flags of the United States, Huntington Beach and the National League of POW/MIA Families as they waved in the beach breeze and Scott played the somber song on his bag pipe.

Huntington Beach City Council members and representatives of the state Legislature were there to pay respects to those who have served and who are currently serving in the U.S. military.

"We celebrate [Veterans Day] because we care," said event master of ceremonies and Huntington Beach Planning Commission Vice Chairman Erik Peterson. "We are forever thankful for those who have served and those who are serving today."

Assemblymen Allan Mansoor (R-Costa Mesa) and Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach) as well as U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) each gave speeches to honor the veterans in the county.

Mansoor touched on the importance of supporting the families of active-duty servicemen and women. Allen addressed the sacrifices families make, and Rohrabacher talked about the liberties service members have fought to protect.

"These [servicemen and service women] are not the norms of humankind," Rohrabacher said. "All over the world there are good people, but they are not the norms because those good people are overwhelmed by evil forces, whether it was Japanese militarism, or Nazism or communism…. It is our veterans that have stood as a line of defense for all of our freedom, and today we thank you for standing tall and strong, veterans. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you."

U.S. Army Lt. Col. John A. Oliver Jr. listed how civilians could give thanks to the armed forces, such as voting in elections, volunteering for worthy causes and registering for selective service.

"Veterans Day is set aside to remember every man and woman who has taken up arms to defend our country," Oliver said. "We honor every soldier, every sailor, every airman, every Marine and every Coast Guardsman who gave some of the best years of their lives, and in some cases their lives, to defend and serve the United States."

The event was capped by a three-volley rifle salute and a member of the Huntington Beach High School band playing taps.

The Veterans Day festivities, however, were far from over in Huntington Beach. Just down Pacific Coast Highway in front of the Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort in the beach-side parking lot was the Surf City Car Show hosted by Vision 2 Victory, an Orange-based nonprofit that supports combat-wounded veterans.

According to organization founder and event coordinator J.R. Nichols, about 300 people registered to pay tribute to those who have served. He estimates that $7,000 to $8,000 had been raised through registration fees.

"Ninety percent of the men and women that are bringing their cars here today are veterans," he said. "Most of them have a little sticker with a little 'V' on it, and that shows all the cars that are [owned] by veterans."

At 1 p.m., the 300 cars in the parking lot revved their engines in tribute to those who served and are serving.

"We call it the POW/MIA salute," Nichols said. "And the hopes are that it's loud enough so the guys that didn't make it home could hear it."

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World