For Kenneth Horowitz, thinking about his service in the US military doesn’t come up often.
He served over 50 years ago in the Vietnam War, as a young and scared military dentist from 1968 to 1969.
But every year, when Palo Alto holds a Veterans Day ceremony, as it did on that cloudy Monday night, Horowitz was grateful to remember his contributions to his country — and those of millions of others.
“The only time I really remember my service is when Palo Alto is hosting this event,” he said.
About 60 people gathered in King Plaza across from City Hall to commemorate those who have served, or are currently serving, in the military ahead of Veterans Day, which is this Thursday, November 11. In attendance were members of the city council, members of the fire and police department, including police chief Robert Jonsen, city staff and local veterans.
Masako Yokota, classical singer and chief of staff to the president of the nonprofit Cancer Commons, sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “America the Beautiful.” Dr. Joseph Felter, a Hoover Institution research fellow and former U.S. Army Special Forces and Foreign Zone officer, delivered a keynote address as the evening’s guest speaker.
Felter paid tribute to the late George Shultz, a top cabinet member during the Nixon and Reagan administrations and a former captain in the Marine Corps, who died in February at his home in Stanford. He also recognized members of local law enforcement and fire departments, whom Felter compared to veterans.
“Our law enforcement … and firefighters here, first responders – so many others take risks to protect us, just like our veterans do in combat,” Felter said. “And in some ways it’s even harder. … Every day, every night, there are service people … who must remain vigilant and determined to protect us all.”
The national holiday, which honors about 19 million living veterans, resonates especially in the city of Palo Alto: About 26 city employees have identified themselves as veterans, five who serve in the fire department, the director said. of the city of Palo Alto, Ed Shikada, in his brief recognition. Monday.
“We have (veteran) representatives in virtually every department (in the city),” ranging from the city’s administrative services department to the public works department, Shikada said.
Additionally, about seven local veterans were seated in the small audience, three of whom served in the Vietnam War, including Horowitz.
“I saw a lot of kids there (in Vietnam) – scared to death,” Horowitz said in a brief conversation. “So was I.”
Ray Powell, an Atherton resident who served at the US Embassy as a defense attaché in Canberra, Australia, and an air attaché in Hanoi, Vietnam, said in an interview that , for him, the national holiday is a way to help the military feel included. with the rest of American society, which includes many people who may never have to be exposed to a line of fire or other hostile environments.
“The extent to which our veterans connect with the rest of society is vital to the health of our democracy,” Powell said. “We can’t let veterans be anything but an integral part of our society.”
Felter also took a brief moment to salute veterans who have died by suicide and encouraged the public to support veterans’ aid organizations. (According to the latest data from the Department of Veterans Affairs, 6,261 veterans died by suicide in 2019.)
“The best way to thank a veteran for their service is to be good citizens, to be worthy of the sacrifices of our veterans,” Felter said.
Watch the full ceremony:
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