A 1960’s Coast Guard uniform, balled up and stuffed in a garbage bag destined for a landfill, was stumbled upon by Steve Nelson while trick-or-treating with his daughter and decided to begin restoring the once-worn piece of history
Nelson, a WWII history professor at Citrus College, brought the uniform to put on display Nov. 10 at Citrus College’s 11th Annual Saluting our Veterans celebration.
“To take something that was someone’s garbage and turning it into a meaningful representation of national history and national defense couldn’t get any better,” Nelson said. “It’s a non-academic way of teaching.”
The collection comprised of more than a dozen uniforms from all branches of the military, spanning from World War II to present day, and served as one of the visual exhibits for the event.
The setting for the celebration also featured artistic portraits done by Citrus students of veterans that have died during their service in the military were arranged along tables. The walkway appropriately named the “Faces of the Fallen.”
The Gladstone High School Marching Band kicked off the event playing patriotic band numbers including all four military service marches.
In addition to the music, the US Air Force Reserve Valley Veterans Memorial Team attended to honor fallen veterans.
The US Air Force Reserve Valley Veterans Memorial shot off a 21-gun salute, performed a flag-folding procedure and played taps before partaking in a moment of a silence.
Vietnam War veterans, Korean War veterans, and a World War II veteran were present to receive a long ovation from the crowd. Among the four veteran honorees recognized during the ceremony was Citrus College Vice President of student services, Martha McDonald.
McDonald had served more than 12 years in the US Marine Corps. She also became the first female to complete the Marine Corps Security Forces School in Mare Island, California as well as the first female instructor.
“I’m filled with pride knowing that I work for an institution that is supportive of our veterans,” McDonald said.
One of the programs McDonald oversees is the Veterans Success Center, which provides student veterans with various services including: personal counseling, support groups for rehabbing veterans as well as access to the Citrus College Veterans Network.
President of the Citrus College Veterans Network and psychology major, Lucero Morales, stood proudly with other army veterans when the familiar tune “The Army Goes Rolling Along” was sung.
“What Citrus did for me is that I was able to comfortably say, ‘Hey, I’m a veteran,’ Morales said.
She also said that returning to civilization is not an easy transition for veterans.
The network combats the difficult transition by organizing projects and activities together like a unit, providing a way to ease back into society.
Most activities are held in the Veterans Success Center, located in the middle of campus next to the LB building.
“It’s so nice to know that we have that and it’s available to us,” Morales said about the Veterans Success Center. “They said before it was a closet, and now we have such a huge building with a garden in the back.”
The other three veteran honorees were US Army Specialist, Jorge Rosales, US Navy Petty Officer Second Class, Valerie Floyd-Davis and US Air Force Senior Airman, Daniel Gigliobianco.
The ceremony closed with keynote addresses from two former Citrus students and veterans, Jon Carter, US Marine Corps and Alma Plunk, US Navy.