Veterans Honored at Santa Clara Ceremony
By Robert Haugh

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Veterans Honored at Santa Clara Ceremony

Evoking emotion, tears and memories, the 2014 Santa Clara Veterans Day ceremony honored those who have served. From those who stormed onto the beaches of Normandy during WWII, to those who endured through hot, windy Middle Eastern sandstorms, to those who treaded in waist-high, cold waters, and those currently fighting the war on terrorism, American veterans are rarely recognized for the sacrifices they make.

“I think we can do better than serving Veterans one day a year,” said Assembly member and Senator-elect Bob Wieckowski, who added that over 20 bills have been passed in California alone in the last year supporting veterans. “VA services are closed only one day a year - Veterans Day, why should we honor our Veterans just one day?”

The event’s keynote speaker, Denny Weisgerber, retired Marine, Purple Heart and Navy Cross award winner, once again stressed paying honor to veterans who continue to serve the nation and protect the freedoms veterans valiantly preserved. Weisgerber, a former Milpitas Mayor and long-standing Santa Clara Veterans Memorial Committee member, was discharged as a staff sergeant after being losing his leg in combat during the Korean War.

“One of the greatest honors we can pay our veterans is to act with wisdom,” he said. “This nation owes a great debt to all veterans. In times of darkness and danger, and as well as peace, American veterans have carried the torch. For their selfless patriotism we owe them deeply. Their names may not be known to us, but their sacrifices will be known.”

Veterans Honored at Santa Clara Ceremony

“Around the world people look to America as a placed for freedom,” added the former gunnery sergeant. “Freedom is never more than one generation from extinction. We must always fight for our freedom. Because freedom isn't free ... Remember it's not what you take when you leave, it's what you leave when you go ... This is why America is still the land of the free and home of the brave.”

Rick Peralta, a disabled Persian Gulf War veteran asked to speak, fighting to momentarily stand and say “Happy Veterans Day.”

Continuing what has become a standing staple of the event, Girl Scout troops 61148 and 61312 distributed hundreds of handmade, personal Thank You cards to veterans.

Veterans Honored at Santa Clara Ceremony

Melissa Bowling, Miss Santa Clara 2010, performed the national anthem. Speakers included Mayor Jamie Matthews, Wieckowski and Congressman Mike Honda; along with representatives from local veterans organizations, including American Legion Post 419’s Rick Gundo, American Legion Post 564’s Shirley Butler and VFW Post 3982 Commander Henry Pope.

Former Director of Parks & Recreation Larry Wolfe served as the emcee. Mike Magierski, who ran the sound for the event, led the audience in singing God Bless America. Reverend William Schultz of Resurrection Lutheran Church conducted the invocation and benediction.

Council members Debi Davis, Lisa Gillmor and Teresa O’Neill, Fire Chief Bill Kelly, Police Chief Mike Sellers, Parks and Recreation Director James Texeira and Assembly-member-elect Kansen Chu were among those in attendance. The Patriot Guard Riders, Gold Star Moms and Blue Star Moms also attended.

Dedicated on Veterans Day 12 years ago, the memorial features granite pedestals highlighting each branch of the United States Military forces - Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, Merchant Marine and Navy. For more information, call Jim Lee at 408-296-2512, or visit