by Brittany Avila
In order to participate in honoring our veterans, SBTHP held its annual Veterans Day Ceremony this past Sunday. The event was touching and unforgettable in many ways. SBTHP was fortunate to have the continued participation of Reseda and Oxnard High Schools’ JROTC groups to perform sabre and rifle drills, in which both of these weapons were spun, pointed, and tossed over the students’ heads in perfect unison. Los Soldados del Real Presidio also attended, a stunning site in their colorful, Presidio-era uniforms, and graced the audience with musket firing and the ceremony’s grand finale, a canon firing.
Amid all of the entertainment, it was hard not to forget that we were there to honor those that served. The Presidio was decorated with various United States flags of different military branches and eras, all donated by volunteer Roger Knox. A patriotic wreath adorned with red and white roses, to symbolize unity, sat beneath the silhouette of the large American flag. SBTHP also received an valuable contributions from local veterans, which were displayed at the event; guests were able to dazzle at the Purple Heart and Silver Star from Presidio descendant Juan “Jack” Calderon, the various badges and Silver Wings from Norm Caldwell, and the various pictures, badges, and medals of Jim Mills, Mike Hardwick, Bud Decker, John Patrick Arnold, and the family of SBTHP Associate Director for Business Affairs, Sally Fouhse. The display brought a sense of unity between guests, who were exposed to the wonderful achievements of their fellow community members.
To further honor our local veterans, the ceremony was graced with a touching speech by guest speaker Michel Nellis, a local author who spoke on her new book (co-authored with Karen Ramsdell) With Their Eyes Turned Skyward, which gives account of Santa Barbara’s local air force members who died in World War II (you can get a copy by clicking here, and scrolling down a bit). Afterward, special guests Norm Caldwell, longtime SBTHP member, and John Patrick Arnold, represented by his family, were honored with certificates of appreciation for their time in service and towards SBTHP. Veterans of all military branches in the audience were also asked to stand and be honored for their bravery with a round of applause and a long-stemmed rose. One such veteran told another audience member that it was the first time he had been thanked for his service in the Vietnam War. That statement alone made the entire ceremony worth holding.
SBTHP is honored to hold this annual event and to have the opportunity to thank those who have done more than we could ever ask. We want to thank all veterans, who are true examples of bravery and courage.
Brittany Avila is the office manager at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation