Our country was founded on the principle of freedom, justice and liberty for all. Our nation’s soldiers serve every day to protect this land and its ideals. On Friday, the City of Mission Viejo paid homage to local veterans for their service and sacrifice in a special Veterans Day ceremony at the Norman P. Murray Community and Senior Center.
Hundreds of people took part in the poignant afternoon observance that venerated these great men and women with words of appreciation. Some have served during times of war and been on the battlefield. Others have served during times of peace. One thing all veterans have in common is they all have a heart of service.
Mayor Dave Leckness began the ceremony by welcoming veterans and residents and reflecting on the day’s meaning.
In perfectly-pressed uniforms and boots polished to a mirror shine, members of the Headquarters Battalion First Marine Division posted the colors before Colonel Rudy Janiczek, commanding officer of the battalion, spoke about the contributions of all veterans and those who continue to serve our country today.
During the ceremony, one of Mission Viejo’s fallen heroes – Corporal Jared C. Verbeek – was honored for paying the ultimate sacrifice for our nation. The 22-year-old was killed in action against enemy forces in Sangin, Afghanistan on June 21. He was a military policeman deployed with the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment. His service awards include the Purple Heart, the Combat Action Ribbon, the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal and the Afghanistan Campaign Medal.
Jared’s wife, Vanessa, and their young son, Jacob, along with his father, mother, sisters and his extended family attended today’s ceremony as Mission Viejo honored their beloved husband, son, father, brother and friend.
Benny and the Brass along with the Southern California Children’s Advanced Chorus performed patriotic songs; the Veterans of Foreign War Post 6204 gave the rifle salute; and Orange County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Michael Crouch performed taps.
The ceremony reflected on the importance of honoring those who risk life and limb – military personnel and police and fire – daily to make our country a better place. The program was summed up in the following quote by John Fitzgerald Kennedy.
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”