Veterans Resources and club hosts seventh annual military ball

%28From+left+to+right%29+Marie+Martinelli%2C+Chemistry+major+Enrique+Rueda+and+Chemical+Engineer+major+Genesis+Esqueda.+Rueda+said+he+struggled+to+see+the+good+in+people+after+serving+in+the+army.+Photo+credit%3A+Benjamin+Garcia

Jocelyn Torralba

(From left to right) Marie Martinelli, Chemistry major Enrique Rueda and Chemical Engineer major Genesis Esqueda. Rueda said he struggled to see the good in people after serving in the army. Photo credit: Benjamin Garcia

Lindsay Helberg

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(From left to right) Marie Martinelli, Chemistry major Enrique Rueda and Chemical Engineer major Genesis Esqueda. Rueda said he struggled to see the good in people after serving in the army. Photo credit: Benjamin Garcia

The Cerritos College Veterans Resources Center and the Student Veterans Club hosted its seventh annual Military Ball on Saturday, May 6. Renée De Long, Dean of Counseling Services and part of the VRC, welcomed everyone to the event and opened by saying how elegant the venue was this year and thanked everyone for attending.

She continued by saying the night was about celebrating, honoring and serving the veterans at Cerritos College.

She also personally recognized an all-star group of individuals who have helped support the VRC over the years.

This list ranged from the people who work in the VRC, to President Jose Fierro, Steven Johnson, President of Student Services, members from The Norwalk Community Coordinating Council, present and former board members, Marie Martinelli along with her team from Student Health Services, Nancy Montgomery who was the former Associate Dean for the VRC, Bob Arthur who helped Montgomery start the VRC in 2008/2009, Norma Rodriguez Director of Student Program Services, ASCC members and anyone else in attendance who has had a part in the success of the club.

Along with all the special guests there were two professors that were prepared to give speeches during the evening; Political Science professor Dennis Falcon and Walter Hernandez, History Professor, both veterans.

Master of Ceremonies, Business Major and Vice President of the VRC, Gaylen Currie, came to the stage after De Long was finished welcoming the guests. He immediately thanked everyone in attendance as well and then brought up two of his fellow VRC members who helped put together the event. One of which was President Enrique Rueda.

Golf Company, 2nd Battalion 23rd Marines-Pico Rivera were this year’s Color Guard and walked in a straight line to the center of the room holding multiple flags.

Julia Plecnik sang the National Anthem in a room filled with veterans that sacrificed for each word of Plecnik’s 90-second rendition of the “The Star Spangled Banner.”

Living in the land of the free because of the brave men and women veterans standing up that night is something Arthur doesn’t take for granted. He later said that as an American he couldn’t say thank you enough to those who served our country.

Arthur also believes we need to provide the men and women who have served our country with better and more services, whether if they need it immediately or if they need it in the future. He said as Americans we need to make a plan now and follow through with that plan.

“It’s not making a strategy plan to get it done; we do it now, that is my opinion,” said Arthur.

Directly following the Presentation of our Colors and the singing of our National Anthem, Political Science Professor and veteran, Dennis Falcon, took the stage as the night’s keynote Speaker.

He joined the Army in 1976 and said his parents had to sign for him to enlist since he was only 17 years old.

He started his speech by saying that throughout history men and women have left their mark on a collective journey. While doing this they have forged and shared bonds that are unique both individually and in their entirety, for those men and women who are currently serving and to those who are yet to come.

He then recited the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, which states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

From there Falcon took everyone in the room on a metaphorical ride through American history by listing pivotal battles our soldiers fought and died in while defending our country and the freedoms we have today.

He listed battles starting with Bunker Hill and Lexington, explaining that a military made up of volunteers assembled to fight the most powerful army in the world at the time, the British.

He went on to say these soldiers didn’t fight for glory but they fought in defense of their homes, their children and for a future, also to hold on to the largely untested idea of self-government.

Next, he listed Antietam and Gettysburg, followed by quoting parts of the Gettysburg Address.

Falcon’s speech continued on like this, only pausing briefly in between listing the names of some of the most horrific, bloody and monumental battles in the history of the United States. He read off the names of each of these battles as if he was reading off the names of fallen soldiers.

Little Big Horn, Wounded Knee, Belleau Wood, Pearl Harbor, Normandy, Heart Break Ridge, Khe Sanh, Huế, Khafji, Medina Ridge, Fallujah, Basra, all battles that were fought by men and women that were willing to give it all, to pay the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

During his speech Falcon also described the pains of guilt that exist within him because he didn’t serve in the Army during a time of war. He described how he struggled as time went on, as he watched generation after generation of men and women take their turn, signing up to fight for our country during a time of war, all the while wondering why he got so lucky to serve when he did.

He finished his speech saying we need to stop sending people to carry a burden we should all share in more directly and then once again reciting the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence.

He said, he would like to see every citizen contributing to some kind of national service even if that meant volunteering for a non-profit. However, he doesn’t believe people should be compelled because we live in a free Nation.

After Falcon left the stage there was a moment of silence and then an explanation behind what was referred to as “The Missing Man Table.” Which was set up in remembrance of fallen, missing, or imprisoned military service-members.