Land of the Free, Home of the Brave

Citrus College hosted their 12th annual “Saluting Our Veterans” event on Nov. 8 in the Campus Center Mall.

Every year, the campus hosts the event in efforts to show commitment and support in honoring the nation’s troops and the sacrifices our veterans make.

Citrus College is well known for being a military friendly campus by “GI Jobs,” honoring all branches.

The event was created in 2006 by Citrus history professor Bruce Solheim.

“We had just started the vet program and we had no celebration and we needed it,” Solheim said. “I thought it was wrong.”

Veterans from past and present wars gathered and were paid a tribute with the honorable three-volley salute.

Students, as well as the community, were welcomed to show that Citrus and citizens do not forget the sacrifices which they make.

Harald Griffith, Korean War Veteran, was amongst the attendees. He attended Citrus College in 1960 and has been attending the Citrus College senior fitness program for 17 years.

“I was in Korea for a year and in the reserves for 13,” Griffith said.

The event kicked off with a musical prologue by the Gladstone High School marching band, directed by Joseph Calderor.

The National Anthem was sung by Citrus Singers Christian Blass, Israel Lacy and Christian Pineda.

Colonial Rick Givens delivered the opening speech, a salute to our fallen veterans. He thanked all that came out to honor those who served.

“It’s a time to pay due respect to those who have not returned, paying the ultimate sacrifice to our nation,” Givens said.

Though Memorial Day is specified to honor those who have passed, Veterans Day is to support all troops.

“Those who returned wounded, mentally or physically,” Givens said.

Since the first event, the Valley Veterans Memorial Team have performed the firing of the 3 volleys and playing of temps, more formally known as a 21 gun salute.

A trumpet played the formal song “Colors,” a traditional memorial song by Veteran Monroy.

“I love it,” Pete Ramirez, officer in charge, said. “I’ve been here for 12 years and never said no. I’m totally committed to Citrus College.”

The Campus Center Mall was filled with recruiters from the different branches and the Army set up a pull-up bar, seeing which students could successfully complete 20 pull-ups and redeem a t-shirt.

Steve Nelson, World War II adjunct professor, displayed uniforms from several branches of the military from previous wars. These uniforms are courtesy of Fort MacArthur Museum in San Pedro and have been donated by many Citrus Alumni.

“I thought we needed to recognize these people,” Nelson said. “People who have influenced me in my life.”

In addition, patches were displayed from the uniforms, some showing different ranks and others showing their assignment.

A majority of the patches were acquired by Steve Trent, geology professor, who spent his life collecting patches from different units and deployments.

“When you’re fighting to kill people, there’s a decorum that you wouldn’t have at home.” Nelson said. “People need to understand that, when our guys get into combat there’s going to be things that are not polite and dainty. But you need to support them completely.”

It was a unanimous opinion, between students and veterans that Citrus College is beyond supportive of our troops.

Larry Jansen, Army veteran, who served from 2003 to 2006, was among many first year attendees.

“It’s awesome and supportive,” Jansen said.

Michael Martinez, Army staff sergeant, was deployed to Afghanistan and served from 2004 to 2014.

“It’s a great morale booster,” Martinez said, regarding the event. “Shows that people still care.”