While Glendale resident Mike Baldwin was able to put Vietnam behind him when he returned — he had a job, home and wife waiting for him — many of his friends were not as fortunate, he said during a Veterans Day celebration Monday at Two Strike Park in La Crescenta.
One way to ease their suffering is to “just say thank you,” said Baldwin, a member of the color guard with American Legion Post 288.
The local American Legion organization, along with VFW Post 1614, organizes the annual event to recognize those who have served in every branch of the military, as well as the anniversary of the signing of the armistice that ended World War I in 1918.
The month also marks a significant personal anniversary for local Korean War veteran Bob Keiter.
In late November 1950, north Glendale resident and former Marine Keiter was shot and wounded at what’s known as the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea.
The next day, a U.S.-manned jeep and trailer rolled through the aftermath, and Keiter recalled someone coming over to him and remarking, “This one’s alive.” They took him to an aid station.
“Those were great words,” Keiter said, adding that it was 22 degrees below zero at the time. Because of the harsh conditions, troops that fought in the battle were nicknamed “The Chosin Few.”
Guest speaker U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), the son of an Army veteran, highlighted what he described as the timely story of recently deceased Brent Taylor, a major in the Utah National Guard who helped secure elections in Afghanistan.
Prior to the recent U.S. midterm elections, Taylor urged all Americans to vote, writing that regardless of the outcome, “we have far more as Americans that unites us than divides,” Schiff said, quoting Taylor.
Taylor was killed in an insider attack while on his fourth deployment earlier this month.
Local Boy Scouts, as well as members of VFW Post 1614, helped set up chairs and assisted with a flag-retirement ceremony during the event.
Boy Scout Trevor Hall, 16, a student at La Crescenta Valley High School, said it was at least his sixth year volunteering at the Veterans Day celebration.
“It’s a great ceremony to help with because it honors the veterans who have served our country and put their lives on the line and those who lost their lives to fight for freedom,” Hall said.
It was Kelly Brown’s first time directly participating in the celebration — leading attendees in singing “God Bless America” — although she has been hearing the music from the event from her former residence down the street for many years.