Categorized | Commentary

Our community heroes

Posted on 27 October 2012 by La Habra Journal

It is the end of October and most people are talking about Halloween or the upcoming elections. Both of which are very important. However, as we creep into November, another holiday is fast approaching and thanks to the Old Settlers and the La Habra Historical Museum, it is getting some attention. The new exhibit is titled “Defenders of our Freedom and it spotlights local veterans who fought in service to our country in the various wars.

It’s great to see people from the community who served their country in peace time and in war. I remember as a kid, I’d ride my bike to the library, and I would often stop and look at the memorial plaque outside the doors honoring those who gave their life to defend what our country stands for. I often wondered how many people stopped and looked at that plaque. Since, I saw it as a kid, some more names have been added to it. I wonder if more people notice it now.

I drive down La Habra Boulevard and notice the names on the banners of the soldiers, Marines, sailors and airmen from our community currently serving in the military and wonder how many people notice the names.

As a former soldier and veteran of the Gulf War and as a lover of history, I love hearing stories from veterans. I am the faculty adviser of the Veterans Club at Fullerton College and get to work with a lot of great men and women who have recently returned from serving and are now back and pursuing their education. It’s great to talk with and hear their experiences and stories.

I come from a line of military men. My uncles, brother in law and father in law served during Vietnam. The stories and experiences they have shared were compelling. It was a different time and cultural climate then. I can remember when we deployed for the Middle East for Operation Desert Shield, the only reference to modern war at the time as the experiences of our veterans in Vietnam (Yes, operations in Panama and Granada had just happened, but those didn’t count as a full-blown deployment at the time). So needless to say, we were nervous. I have a great deal of respect and I am thankful for all of the veterans who served our country in Vietnam.

My father and great uncle served in World War II and Korea. I even had a photography teacher in college who served in Korea. Those stories and experiences remain incredible. I would always love talking with the WWII vets. What a compelling time in our history, and what great stories to be told. I was able to research some of my father’s military history and was amazed to see just how much land in Europe he actually travelled. Transportation back then is not what it is now. So for the veterans of the Greatest Generation, my eternal gratitude and great respect for what you did for our country.

This brings me back to the museum. There have been a lot of men and women from La Habra and La Habra Heights who have served in the military. Some, like the True family have La Habra veterans spanning multiple generations. You can see some of their uniforms and artifacts on display in the museum. Some local soldiers like SFC William Brown whose remains were just recently found and returned from Vietnam paid the ultimate price to serve their country. It’s an exhibit that helps you see more to our community. You see the personal history of it and the character of the men and women who live in it. Then, while you’re over there, go ahead and walk by the plaque outside the library. Take a moment to see the names of La Habra residents who didn’t come back. You’ll feel that pride and know that despite differences, that our community is made up of great people.

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