Cerritos College
Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

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Veterans honored at the hill

Laura Chau/TM
Cadets from the El Rancho High School ROTC program stand at attention during the flag salute at the 3rd Annual Veterans Day Celebration. It was the first time participants of the El Rancho High School ROTC program were invited to attend the event.

It will take army widow Megan Griffin a lifetime to forget her husband, Private Michael Griffin, but it took her only 10 minutes to tear up during last Wednesday’s Third Annual Veterans Day Celebration at Falcon Square.

As trumpeter Alvaro Perez played “Taps,” and  Student Veterans Club President Chris Markowski requested a moment of silence from the two dozen people that assembled on the hill, Griffin was overcome with emotion.

“Every time I even hear it, it reminds me of the funeral,” she said.

Although the celebration was brief, Griffin is grateful the college and the Student Veterans Club recognize the importance of hosting a celebration to honor the country’s former soldiers.

“It’s nice to know that there are people here who acknowledge and who care that there are people who have sacrificed for our country.”

Serving as the master of ceremonies, Markowski explained the meaning behind Veterans Day.

“It is a day for Americans to celebrate the bravery and sacrifice of all United States Veterans.

“Deceased Veterans are remembered on Veterans Day, but the day is set aside to thank and honor living veterans who served honorably in the military during war times or peace time.”

He included a message for all students, even those who do not personally know a veteran.

“Your duty is to take today and honor those who live among us that made that choice to serve.  You are responsible for carrying on the history, the stories and the valor.”

Markowski then introduced ASCC President Felipe Grimaldo who spoke of his experience serving twice in Iraq, and his decision to join the military in the first place.

“With the events that took on back on 9/11, I remember thinking I had to do something about it. 

“Maybe my mentality was off a little bit; I was thinking we had to get payback for some reason, but payback is not always the way. 

“If anything, joining was more of a way for me to find myself and to see that I was going to be able to fit in with a group of people that was going through the same situation.”

The next presenter was Student Veterans Club Vice President Sgt. Jason Tyson who read “In Flanders Fields,” a poem by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae.

First Sgt. Steve Mick, Marine instructor at Del Rancho High School in Pico Rivera, accompanied his cadets and led them in the retiring of the colors—the United States flag, the El Rancho High School Lions flag and the United States Marine Corps flag.

“It was an honor for us to come down here and be a part of the remembrance ceremony. 

“I used the GI benefits myself to go to the university and get my teaching degree and it’s good to see veterans on campus continuing with their career after their service to their country.”

Mick, who served in the Marine Corps for 27 years, decided to work with cadets at a high school to serve as a role model.

“The average age of a Marine is about 19 and a half, so being able to work with young people and teaching them leadership principles is great. 

“Hopefully I help to keep them off the streets, away from drugs and teach them to do positive things with their lives,” he said.

Also in attendance were John Castillo, a representative of American Veterans, who volunteers at the Cerritos College Veterans Resource Center, and a representative from West Los Angeles Veterans Administration, to provide outreach for student veterans who need mental healthcare and other services.

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Veterans honored at the hill