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League of California Cities

Cities found meaningful ways to honor veterans and active service members during the pandemic

In lieu of parades and large in-person celebrations, cities across the state found meaningful ways to engage residents in commemorating the service, sacrifice, and contributions of our nation’s veterans. From virtual presentations to military flyovers to collecting letters for veterans and active service members, cities worked hard to ensure the brave men and women who fearlessly defended our freedom received the recognition they deserve.

color-guard.jpgMany cities including Chino and Folsom had virtual Veterans Day tributes that were highlighted on their websites and social media channels. As part of their online celebrations, the cities of Claremont and Orange also featured slideshows of veterans and active duty service members who have a connection to their respective cities. The city of Orange also partnered with the nearby city of La Habra for a military flyover on Veterans Day.

The city of San Marcos offered residents several ideas of ways to honor veterans’ commitment to our country including visiting one of the many military memorials in San Diego.
 
“Although we couldn’t host the beloved Veterans Day ceremony in person this year, we encouraged residents to honor those who have served or continue to serve in other meaningful ways,” said San Marcos Mayor Rebecca Jones. “There are many small acts of kindness, such as calling or texting a veteran to say thank you, that can be done not just on Veterans Day but all year long.”

Through a special partnership with the American Canyon Troop Support and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #1123, the city of American Canyon collected donations of handwritten letters and items for holiday care packages that will be shipped to deployed military service members. The city also displayed a community Wall of Honor in the hallway outside the city council chambers that featured photos of American Canyon residents who are actively serving in the military.

In Hermosa Beach, the city honored veterans by hosting a Veterans Memorial on the east lawn of the Hermosa Beach Community Center with a "Veterans Are Timeless" showcase honoring veterans with a special 
connection to the city. The outdoor event required attendees to wear masks and maintain social distancing to ensure everyone’s safety. The city also collected letters of appreciation and support for military members, past and present, and worked with organizations such as the Vietnam Veterans of America and the Veterans of Foreign Wars to distribute them.
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In Temple City, a vintage plane flyover kicked off the celebration, which was followed by the city’s first virtual Veterans Day ceremony that included inspirational messages from the city council, Congress Member Judy Chu, Sen. Susan Rubio, and keynote speaker Deputy Secretary of Minority Veterans Affairs Xochitl Rodriguez Murillo.

Veterans-Day-Sign-(1).png“As part of our virtual Veterans Day program, we also created lawn signs to support veterans in our community,” said Temple City Park & Recreation Coordinator Roman Rodriguez. “This was a great way for Temple City residents to publicly show their gratitude for all those who have served and continue to serve in the U.S. military. We heard from residents that they felt a sense of appreciation for veterans every time they drove or walked by a lawn sign.” 
 
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The city of Palmdale constructed a Healing & Honor Field that featured 2,020 flags on 7 and-a-half foot tall poles in ordered rows, creating a massive vista of red, white, and blue. Residents could purchase flags to honor individuals who serve or have served in the military, law enforcement, fire/EMT, or medical personnel. All proceeds from the flag sales benefited local veteran charities. The Palmdale Healing & Honor Field was open to visitors starting on Nov. 1 and concluded with a Veterans Day ceremony on Nov. 11.
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The city of Palo Alto pointed residents to organizations that offer volunteer opportunities to help veterans as well highlighted a list of national monuments, museums, and battlefields that offer virtual tours.

“There are many ways to honor our veterans this year, and we encouraged the community to show support in several ways, even if we can’t gather together at an event or parade,” said Palo Alto Community Services Department Director Kristen O’Kane. “Writing letters to troops is one of the easiest ways for both children and adults to express gratitude to veterans. Deployment can get lonely and a little human connection can mean a lot. Other ways to be involved include volunteering or donating to organizations that support our veterans.”

Cities’ creativity was on display this Veterans Day as they developed meaningful ways to celebrate and honor current members of the U.S. military and those who have served to protect our country’s freedom and liberty.  

This story was featured in the Cal Cities Advocate newsletter on Nov. 18, 2020. 
© League of California Cities