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A family of veterans

Community: Veterans, from World War II forward, honored with certificates from the city, county

Posted: November 11, 2010 9:25 p.m.
Updated: November 12, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Patrick Dunkel, left, and Sean Gorman of the Valencia High School Junior ROTC Exhibition Rifle Team perform onstage before the hundreds of people who attended the city of Santa Clarita Veterans Day Ceremony on Thursday.

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All around the room at the Belcaro Community Grove House on Thursday were photos of smiling young Americans.

Some of the framed black-and-white images were obviously from a time before color photography. Other photos were faded and yellowed.

But regardless of the dated fashions and haircuts, each one represented an honor and commitment to the United States of America by someone in uniform.

In Belcaro’s special Veterans Day tribute, 58 veterans having served in battles as far back as the Battle of the Bulge in 1944-45 received honorary certificates from both the city of Santa Clarita and from Los Angeles County.

After accolades were made by Mayor Laurene Weste and United States Marine Corps veteran R. J. Kelly, and after a hearty rendition of “God Bless America” sung by Madeline Lindenheim, vets of varying ages — many of them white-haired — lined up to receive their certificates.

One of the 58 veterans was a woman.

“I was the only black female on the base,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Elsie Sanders, who now goes by Sandy Cashie, explaining how she was responsible for preparing troops for Vietnam.

“It wasn’t an easy road, but I was up to the task,” she said. “I was a line officer and I was the only female who wasn’t a nurse.

“I was getting ready to go to Vietnam.”

Next to her in line, also clutching two certificates, was 82-year-old Sam Baron of the U.S. Army.

“That’s Eisenhower’s Army,” he said with a smile, explaining his unique style of Army uniform.

“I was in the Korean War,” he said. “Most high school kids don’t even know that war. 

“It’s known as the forgotten war.”

But Baron wasn’t forgotten Thursday and neither were 58 of his fellows.

During the official part of the ceremony, Weste said simply: “God bless each and every one of you.”

Kelly, who served as a Marines sniper and who is now president of the Castaic Lake Water Agency board, told them: “I appreciate every one of my fellow soldiers.

“When I look around and see all the uniforms of all the different branches of the military, I remember how we’re always teasing each other,” he said. “But, in the end, we can’t do it without each other.

“We’re family.”

Kelly put Veterans Day 2010 into perspective for many Thursday.

“This is also a time to be honoring the spouses who had to endure pain and suffering and the effects of post-traumatic stress,” he said. “And, yes, we do have a lot of occurring flashbacks, anger happens sometimes, nightmares happen but we’re strong as individuals.

“Santa Clarita has a tremendous number of veteran organizations to support our vets.”


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