Seal Beach community observes Veterans Day

The Southeast County Young Marines advance and present the colors to open the ceremony. Photo by Ted Apodaca

At 11 a.m., on Friday, Nov. 11, the Seal Beach community paused to observe Veterans Day in Eisenhower Park. This year’s ceremony was marked by a speech from Capt. Jessica O’Brien, commanding officer of Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach.

Dr. Darin Detwiler, a Navy veteran who served aboard a nuclear submarine, described his time aboard a submarine as being a member of a community. Then he became a member of another community—veterans.

Detwiler said veterans represent a wide range of different military services. He said he was a veteran, a Lion, and a resident of Seal Beach—communities that represent what is best about the nation and the reason he joined the United States Navy.

Rep. Michelle Steel began by quoting John 15:13: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

Steel reminded the audience that they are privileged to live in the greatest country in the world and that they could not enjoy that privilege without the sacrifices of veterans.

Steel said that we cannot fully repay the debt owed to veterans, but we can ensure that veterans can receive the benefits they have earned many times over.

Capt. O’Brien, who became NWS commander in mid-July, spoke briefly about the strategic importance of the Seal Beach base.

O’Brien said you seldom find a Navy base in such beautiful surroundings.

O’Brien said she knew that many of those present had experienced the burden of fatigue and perhaps experienced war to bring peace.

O’Brien said Veterans Day gets short shrift—many Americans do not get the day off.

She expressed concern that only a small percentage of the population serves in the military. She said as the population grows and the military stays the same or in some cases shrinks, many people have no connection to the armed forces.

She called on the public to support the families of those serving overseas; she asked the public to encourage young people to see the military as a viable career choice, and asked veterans to share their stories.

She said if you are not a veteran, find one ask them to tell their stories or thank them.

Chad Berlinghieri, artistic director of the Seal Beach Symphony, performed “The Star Spangled Banner,” “America the Beautiful,” and “My Country ’Tis of Thee.”

Berlinghieri rang the bell during the  POW/MIA table ceremony, which was performed by Thomas Bell of the Seal Beach Lions.

During the ceremony, one of the colors fell over twice. Capt. O’Brien righted the banner each time and two members of the Young Marines stepped forward to hold the colors steady against the wind.

District One Councilman/Mayor Joe Kalmick was expected to speak but did not.

Seal Beach Police Chaplain Donald Shoemaker delivered the opening and closing prayers.

The event was hosted by the Seal Beach Lions Club and Grace Community Church. A bagpipe player performed in front of a VVA Medivac Huey helicopter.