For Kenneth Horowitz, thinking about his service in the US military doesn’t come up often.
He served more than 50 years ago during the Vietnam War, as a frightened young military dentist from 1968 to 1969.
But every year when Palo Alto holds a Veterans Day ceremony, as he 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 at King Plaza across from City Hall to commemorate those who previously served, or are currently serving, in the military ahead of Veterans Day, which is this Thursday, November 11. In attendance were members of city council, members of the fire department and police, 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 researcher at the Hoover Institution and a former U.S. Army and Foreign Zone Special Forces officer, delivered remarks as the evening’s guest speaker.
Felter acknowledged the late George Shultz, a key cabinet member under the Nixon and Reagan administrations and former Marine Corps captain, who died in February at his Stanford home. He also recognized members of local law enforcement and firefighters, whom Felter compared to veterans.
“Our law enforcement personnel… and firefighters here, the first responders – so many others take risks to protect us just as our veterans do in combat,” Felter said. “And in some ways it’s even more difficult.… Every day, every night there are people on duty… who must remain vigilant and determined to protect us all.”
The National Day, which honors an estimated 19 million living veterans, resonates particularly with the city of Palo Alto: about 26 city employees have identified themselves as veterans, five who serve in the fire department, the city manager said. of Palo Alto, Ed Shikada, in his brief acknowledgment. Monday.
“We have representatives (of veterans) in practically all (city) departments,” ranging from the city’s administrative services department to the public works department, Shikada said.
In addition, around 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 United States Embassy as a defense attaché in Canberra, Australia, and 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,” said Powell. “We cannot let veterans be more than an integral part of our society.”
Felter also took a brief moment to pay tribute to veterans who committed suicide and encouraged the public to support veterans relief organizations. (According to the latest data from the Department of Veterans Affairs, 6,261 veterans committed suicide in 2019.)
“The best way to thank a veteran for his service is to be good citizens, to be worthy of the sacrifices of our veterans,” said Felter.
Watch the entire ceremony:
Help is available
Anyone who is feeling depressed, upset, or suicidal can call 800-784-2433 to speak to an emergency counselor. Residents of Santa Clara County can call 855-278-4204. Spanish speakers can call 888-628-9454.
People can reach trained counselors at Crisis Text Line by texting 741741.
Read more: How to help people in crisis