Local Veterans Day ceremony honors members of armed forces | November 12, 2021 | Almanac | Almanac Online |

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News - November 12, 2021

Local Veterans Day ceremony honors members of armed forces

by By Lloyd Lee

For Kenneth Horowitz, thinking about his service in the U.S. military doesn't come around often.

He served more than 50 years ago during the Vietnam War, as a young, and scared, Army dentist from 1968 to 1969.

But each year, when Palo Alto holds a ceremony for Veterans Day, as it did on this past Monday on a cloudy evening, Horowitz was grateful to be reminded of his contributions to his country — and those of millions of others.

"The only time I really remember my service is when Palo Alto holds this event," he said.

About 60 people gathered at King Plaza in front of City Hall to commemorate those who once served, or currently serve, in the military ahead of Veterans Day on Thursday, Nov. 11. In attendance were City Council members, members of the city's fire and police department, including Police Chief Robert Jonsen, city staff and local veterans.

Masako Yokota, a classical vocalist and chief of staff to the chair of the nonprofit Cancer Commons, sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" and "America the Beautiful." Dr. Joseph Felter, a Hoover Institution research fellow and a former U.S. Army Special Forces and foreign area officer, gave a speech as the evening's guest speaker.

Felter recognized the late George Shultz, a top cabinet member during the Nixon and Reagan administrations and former captain in the Marine Corps, who died in February at his Stanford home. He also recognized members of local law enforcement and the fire department, which Felter likened to veterans.

"Our members of the law enforcement ... and fire department here, first responders — so many others take risks to protect us just like our veterans do in combat," Felter said.

The national holiday, which honors about 19 million living veterans, especially resonates with the city of Palo Alto: About 26 city employees have identified themselves as veterans, five who serve in the fire department, Palo Alto City Manager Ed Shikada said in his brief recognition on Monday.

In addition, about seven local veterans sat 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 in the U.S. Embassy as a defense attache in Canberra, Australia, and air attache in Hanoi, Vietnam, said in an interview that, for him, the national holiday is a way to help service members 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 to the rest of society is vital to the health of our democracy," Powell said. "We can't let veterans be something other than an integral part of our society."

Felter also took a brief moment to acknowledge veterans who have died by suicide and encouraged the audience to support veteran assistance 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 services is to be good citizens, to be worthy of our veterans' sacrifices," Felter said.

Help is available

Any person who is feeling depressed, troubled or suicidal can call 800-784-2433 to speak with a crisis counselor. Reach trained counselors at Crisis Text Line by texting 741741.

Email Editorial Assistant Lloyd Lee at [email protected]

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