SOLANA BEACH — At 11 a.m. on the 11th day of the 11th month, dozens of veterans and their families gathered at La Colonia Community Park to honor those who have served and are serving in the United States military.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5431, the Solana Beach chapter of the veteran support organization, hosted the annual Veterans Day event on Saturday in partnership with city leaders.
The day featured remarks from North County veterans, music and dance performances by Santa Fe Christian School, and the presentation of the colors by the Camp Pendleton Young Marines.
Mayor Lesa Heebner acknowledged that there are around 250,000 veterans in the San Diego region and that for many, returning home from service can present an abundance of challenges.
“We want you to know that we are filled with gratitude for your service,” Heebner said.
Oceanside resident and retired U.S. Navy Chief Emilson Reyes spoke about his years in the service, which included two deployments to Iraq and work as a green side corpsman, providing medical care out in the field.
Reyes was open when discussing how much his service had changed him and how some memories are still difficult to talk about. While it can feel difficult to ask for help sometimes, he emphasized the importance of seeking and accepting support.
“Today I stand before you as a veteran, and I’m proud of it,” he said. “There are also those invisible scars caused by war… and those are sometimes harder to fix because they are not readily shared with your family, your friends, or even your wife.”
Longtime VFW Post 5431 Commander Randy Treadway performed the annual dove release to honor those who have died in the service.