PALMDALE — More than 700 community members, including veterans and their family members, marked the 10th anniversary of the AV Wall, and honored those who served in uniform, at a Veterans Day ceremony Monday morning at the Palmdale Amphitheater at Marie Kerr Park.
The Antelope Valley Mobile Vietnam Memorial Wall spread across the perimeter of the amphitheater’s grass. Visitors stood or sat near the wall prior to, and throughout, the ceremony. The Guardian Brass, the Ensemble of the Air National Guard Band of the West Coast, played music prior to the start of the ceremony. Highland High School’s Air Force Junior ROTC color guard did the presentation of colors.
“This is phenomenal to have such support for our veterans in this Valley,” said Stacia Nemeth, co-chairperson of the 10th Anniversary AV Wall Committee. “Today our veterans are our VIPs, they’re our special guests, and they are our dignitaries.”
Nemeth added, “This ceremony is our small way of showing our love, honor and appreciation for you.”
Brig. Gen. E. John “Dragon” Teichert, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University graduate who is commander of Edwards Air Force Base’s 412th Test Wing served as keynote speaker.
Teichert recited the World War I poem “In Flanders Fields” by John McCrae, a doctor and soldier who presided over the funeral of a colleague.
The final line of the poem is “If you break faith with us who die; We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields.”
“That charge from our fallen comrades was for us to continue to keep faith with them, and their service, and with one another,” Teichert said. “Because their powers as veterans stem from keeping faith with one another. They were able to accomplish their mission because they did it by serving together.”
Teichert also quoted President Woodrow Wilson, who marked the one-year anniversary of the end of World War I with a speech.
“According to Wilson, our power and our strength came together from acting together in high purposes,” Teichert said.
As Teichert put it, the Aerospace Valley’s veteran community is thriving because our veterans are serving together.
“We need to remember our sacred common bond, and everything that we do, we must continue to do serving faithfully together,” Teichert said.
The Veterans Day ceremony included performances by vocalist Ricky Medlin Jr. also known as Rat Pack Ricky, who sang the National Anthem and other songs. The Guardian Brass performed “This is My Country,” and the Armed Forces medley. Tenth Anniversary AV Wall Committee member Margie Hernandez read a poem she wrote titled “How You Recall.”
Dignitaries including Teichert, Assemblyman Tom Lackey and state Sen. Scott Wilk presented Vietnam veterans in the crowd with a lapel pin and presidential proclamation.
U.S. Army veteran Faviola Lomeli brought her seven-year-old son to the ceremony.
“To me it’s important because I want him to grow up understanding and respecting the reason, you know, honoring everybody that’s served in this country, and why he has the freedom that he has as my son,” Lomeli said as she and Marcos stood near the AV Wall prior to the start of the ceremony.
Lomeli’s older son Ivan, 21, serves in the Army. Her husband is also an Army veteran.
Air Force veteran David Holloway, who served stateside during the Vietnam War, volunteered to spend time at the AV Wall during the five days it was on display at the amphitheater. He volunteered nine hours a day for five years.
“I just love telling the stories about the people on the wall,” Holloway said.
His favorite story is that of Dan Bullock, a Brooklyn native who was the youngest American killed in the war. Bullock died a month after he arrived in Vietnam. He was 15 years old.
“If you come back here, say one, two, or three o’clock in the morning, you might find a guy here cracking open a beer and just sitting here having a beer with his buddies,” Holloway said.