Veteran’s Day brings communities together to honor and celebrate those who have served, and those currently serving in the armed forces of the United States. Burbank honored its veterans on Tuesday with a ceremony at McCambridge Park, including veterans representing conflicts ranging from World War II to the War Against Terror.
Attendees were greeted with patriotic music performed by the Burbank Community Band, American Flags, and buntings, all in the shadow of the Burbank’s War Memorial Eternal Flame. Adorned with tributes to warriors who have given their lives in service to their country, when near the memorial veterans have the third sense they are among family.
The formal program followed the annual Veteran’s Day script, highlighted by a presentation of gratitude to several of Burbank’s recently separated Marines, Airmen, Soldiers, and Sailors. Politicians gave their remarks, with a couple “shout outs” to local companies donating funds or support for the ceremony.
And in the background veterans quietly talked with each other, maybe sharing stories about place they’d been, maybe simply indulging in the brotherhood of those who have raised their hand in a solemn oath to defend the constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. One discussion about Okinawa, another about North Africa, and others talked about Korea and Vietnam.
Dekin Jones, an Army veteran who served in Korea acknowledged the Marines who “saved their butts,” Lt. Col. Durhan talked about when with the 101st Airborne he walked into an Ambush near Firebase Ross, and SSgt John Hollis recalled his tours in the Philippines, Okinawa, and mainland Japan.
Guest Speaker Mike L. Kufchak, retired Sergeant Major, USMC, provided guests and fellow veterans with a moving account of heroism, of brotherhood, and commitment. No stranger to war and conflict, Kufchack has devoted himself to assisting fellow veterans with the sometimes difficult transition from military to civilian life. Kufchack was given the event’s ceremonial flag as a token of Burbank’s appreciation.
Veterans of all services share a common bond. From the oath of enlistment, to meeting 100 scared kids from around the country standing on yellow footprints at the gateway to basic training, through training, up to the point when deployed for service – whether routine or conflict. The brotherhood even transcends nationalities, as British, Canadian, American, Korean, Philippine, and veterans of all other nations at some point put aside national differences and simply acknowledge their commonalities as veterans.
Some veterans dating to World War II were simply too tired to enjoy the event, but needed to be there regardless. The National World War II Museum estimates of the 16 million who served in World War II, only about 1 million are still alive, and veterans of the war are dying at the rate of nearly 555 each day.
A bright spot of the event was a charming rendition of “God Bless the USA” by the St. Robert Bellarmine Catholic Elementary School Kindergarten class. The children represented every possible racial background, and sang their hearts out as a team. Every veteran no doubt said a small prayer these wonderful children would never need to be faced with service in the armed forces. Rather, each veteran hopeful by the time the children reach adulthood, that perhaps the world will be a safe, peaceful place.
As a mournful, echoing call of “Taps” drifted over the park, veterans shook hands one more time, said their goodbyes, and Burbank went on with its business for another year. The Eternal Flame continues to burn, some banners of Burbankers who served taken down from their spots on 3rd Avenue, new banners prepared for their mounts, and the citizens will go about their lives confident they have done their job recognizing veterans.