CARLSBAD — For 13 years, the Army and Navy Academy has played host to one of North County’s largest Veterans Day ceremonies on Nov. 11.
Hundreds of military veterans watched as the ANA cadets put on a military review complete with two flyovers (one being the Missing Man formation), formation, inspection and review of the cadets, a memorial wreath presentation, the playing of TAPS and remarks from retired Col. Russ Hanthorn of the U.S. Marine Corps. Closing out the 45-minute ceremony, veterans lined the football field as the cadets marched past in one final review.
This year, though, the event was held in person as COVID-19 guidelines have been eased as last year the ceremony was done virtually, according to ANA president Mark Dejardins.
“I thought our kids executed at a really high level and that’s due to the leadership and preparation of the senior command staff and individuals assigned to train them,” he said. “It’s an honor and a privilege to open up our campus and participate in welcoming and salute the veterans who’ve served this country.”
Retired Marine and Commandant of Cadets Col. Wayne Ward said the day is one of reflection and pride for those who have served. Additionally, he said the ramp-up to the event had another boost of energy on Nov. 10, the official birthday of the USMC.
He said the cadets and staff had a small party with cake to honor those staffers who served in the Marines. But Veterans Day takes it to another level as the cadets put their best foot forward to recognize and salute all the men and women who served in all five branches.
“Educating the boys, our cadets, on what Veterans Day means is important to us,” Ward said. “When we have from end zone to end zone veterans, sometimes two deep, lining our field to celebrate the service they provided is incredible.”
Hanthorn, meanwhile, gave a short speech but touched on the history of Veterans Day, which was originally Armistice Day from when the Allies signed a treaty with Germany on the 11th hour of the 11th day on the 11th month in 1919. In 1938, congress passed a law recognizing Armistice Day as a national holiday and it was amended in 1954 as Veterans Day.
Hanthorn said for many in attendance and across the world, a servicemember’s oath is a source of pride, duty and honor to their country.
Then he conducted a first for the ceremony, Ward said. Hanthorn asked all family members to stand and be recognized alongside their spouses or loved ones.
Ward said it was a great gesture as families also go through hard times as their loved one is serving.
“Without families and support, it wouldn’t happen,” Ward added. “For us to have open campus and to be able to provide something like this in the honor of veterans … it’s unreal.”