SOLANA BEACH — Being the guest speaker at this year’s Veterans Day ceremony was as much a learning experience for Air Force Lt. Col. Scott Hall as it was for those who gathered Nov. 11 at La Colonia Park to honor the men and women who serve our nation.
In writing his speech, Hall said he discovered information about his family’s military service he had never known. While serving in Vietnam his father, retired Air Force Col. Johnnie Hall, earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, awarded for heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight.
“How did I, his son for 44 years and an Air Force pilot myself, not know that?” asked Hall, a Carlsbad resident who earned nearly a dozen medals while serving in Operation Desert Storm.
He said one reason is that his father, like many veterans, is modest and keeps his service to himself.
“The second is, I never asked,” he said. “I should have.”
That discovery prompted Hall to ask his son, Peter, about the two tours he served with the Army in Iraq. “I’ve got some scars,” Peter, 26, told his father. “Some you can see. Others you can’t.
“But I helped change the world and destroy evil,” Peter said. “I’ll take the scars.”
Hall said Veterans Day is as much about paying tribute to the men and women of the military as it is learning about their service.
“Today’s young people need to remember and learn from our trials and experiences,” he said. “They need to learn that bravery is not the lack of fear but being able to act in the face of fear.”
Hall encouraged attendees to ask family members, neighbors, doctors and pastors if they have served. If the answer is yes, ask them to tell a story, he said.
“We need to keep alive the stories of our vets,” he said. “Our children and grandchildren need to hear those stories. It will foster their love for this great nation.”
In a brief “soapbox moment,” Hall said he planned to use the word great more often when talking about his country.
“Our past and present veterans have given their lives, put themselves in harm’s way, sacrificed time away from their families, friends and loved ones for this nation,” he said. “It is great because of them.”
The event also included a presentation of the colors by the Camp Pendleton Young Marines, military music by the Santa Fe Christian Band and a welcome message from City Councilwoman Lesa Heebner, who said the annual ceremony honors “our true heroes.”
“They have endured countless struggles for our freedom,” Heebner said. “We are indebted to each and every one of you.”
The hour-long celebration ended with the release of white doves, the symbol of peace.