Local Veterans Come Together for Big Bear Lake’s Annual Veterans Day Ceremony at Veterans Park

Retired USMC Colonel Jerry Kinney wore his helmet from Vietnam during his moving (and often humorous) talk.

Retired USMC Colonel Jerry Kinney wore his helmet from Vietnam during his moving (and often humorous) talk.

This morning’s Veterans Day ceremony at Veterans Park, hosted by the American Legion Post 584 and the City of Big Bear Lake, featured keynote speaker Jerry Kinney, who served as a colonel with the U.S. Marine Corps on tours of duty that included Vietnam. Following the presentation of colors by the U.S. Marine Corps Detachment 1038, Kinney asked those in attendance to join him in remembering three longtime-local veterans who’ve passed in the last year or so—Navy Commander Bob Kronberger (a Pearl Harbor survivor), and Marines A.L. “Woody” Woodard and James “Mac” McAlister—and the 13 who lost their lives at the Army’s Fort Hood in Texas this week. Kinney noted that those who served alongside him in Vietnam were ages 17 to 62 and, of those who lost their lives in Vietnam, there were 5,573 from California alone. Given this, he announced, our 65th District Assemblyman and retired Marine Paul Cook wrote a bill, since approved by Governor Schwarzenegger in September, that will designate a “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day” on each March 30, starting in 2010, to recognize and herald California’s Vietnam veterans. Kinney also shared with today’s crowd a poem he wrote in 1969, en route to the VA when he passed a military funeral procession; a portion of his moving poem read, “I didn’t come home in a box like you, I got to keep on livin’ my Vietnam blues.” Big Bear Lake’s Mayor Rick Herrick also took a moment at the podium and, of veterans like his father, suggested to the crowd, “Take a moment to hear their stories. Every veteran has a story. God bless our veterans, living and dead, and God bless America.” The 11/11 lakeside ceremony closed with the American Legion’s Bill Wilson, who served in Korea with the Navy, reading letters to the post from Baldwin Lane Elementary first graders, the last of which read, “Thank you for letting us be free.”

Big Bear Valley's veterans, as well as the general public and military families, joined the American Legion and our local Marine Corps Detachment for the 11/11 ceremony, which began at 11:11.

Big Bear Valley's veterans, as well as the general public and military families, joined the American Legion and our local Marine Corps Detachment for the 11/11 ceremony, which began at 11:11.

At ceremony's end, the entire assembly joined in singing "God Bless America."

At ceremony's end, the entire assembly joined in singing "God Bless America."

Related posts:

  1. Veterans Day Ceremony at Veterans Park on 11/11; Marine Corps Detachment Honors USMC’s 234th Birthday on Saturday
  2. Local Marine Corps League Detachment and American Legion Post Host Memorial Day Ceremony at Veterans Park on Monday
  3. Memorial Day Procession and Ceremony at Veterans Park Planned for Monday, May 31