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Veterans of all ages honored

Hundreds of SCV residents salute those who serve in military

Posted: November 11, 2009 10:08 p.m.
Updated: November 12, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Video coverage of the 2009 Veteran's Day Ceremonies in Newhall.

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During a somber ceremony at Veterans Memorial Plaza on Wednesday, Marine Lance Cpl. Andrew Acevedo sat quietly with his family toward the back of the park.

The 21-year-old from Newhall, already an Iraq war veteran, was enjoying one of his last days at home before he ships off for a tour of duty in Afghanistan.

Fighting on the other side of the world makes a soldier feel isolated from loved ones, he said, and Veterans Day has given him a chance to feel the community's support before he heads back to war.

"We don't need a ‘Thank you,' but we definitely appreciate it," Acevedo said. "People think nobody cares about them when they are overseas; life kind of moves on without you when you're over there. This is nice."

Acevedo, along with veterans from nearly every major American war were recognized Wednesday for their service at the city's third annual Veterans Day Ceremony at the Newhall plaza.

People, many wearing red, white and blue, flooded the plaza and had to line the perimeter of the park to find room to view the ceremony.

There, Councilwoman Laurene Weste dedicated 11 plaques describing every major war in U.S. history - from the Revolution to the first Persian Gulf War. A blank plaque at the end of the display will eventually commemorate the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, she said.

The plaque has already been donated by a family whose son was killed in the Iraq war, and will be made once the wars finally end.

The $1,500 plaques were donated to the city by businesses, organizations and private citizens, Weste said.

The plaques line a trio of fountains at the back of the plaza, behind a bronze statue of a Civil War Era drummer boy.

While much of the festivities were somber and reflective, two members of Valencia High School's ROTC got loud applause after they performed a rifle flipping exhibition. Kelvin Ulloa, who choreographed the exhibition, and Patrick Dunkel said they have practiced the routine since the summer.

Tony Merincola, 92, wore his original green World War II uniform to the ceremony.

He finds Veterans Day important because it forces people to stop and reflect on the sacrifices members of the armed services have made for their country.

When Merincola was 25, he volunteered for the service, he said. He fought in Europe for about eight months with the 87th airborne division, eventually earning the rank of private first class.

Shrapnel tore into his leg while he fought in the Battle of the Bulge, one of Europe's largest battles.

He received his uniform while recovering at a military hospital. He has kept it ever since, he said.

Merincola received a standing ovation when he was recognized for his service during the ceremony.

"No matter which war we fought in, all of us get the chance to be recognized," Merincola said. "And we appreciate that."

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