For the past week, American flags - large and small - have flown at the Santa Barbara Cemetery, in honor of the veterans who are buried there. Over 4,000 flags have been placed by volunteers, led by the efforts of Nick Scarvelis, Eagle Scout and Dos Pueblos High School Senior. The project was supported by all the members of local Boy Scout Troop 33.
Large flags are placed near the Santa Barbara Cemetery gates....
and line a portion of the cemetery drive in each direction.
And soon, on each plane and hill, you see them - hundreds and hundreds of tiny American flags, placed on the graves of Americans who served. Here lie veterans from every war since the American Civil War.
Some of the areas of the cemetery only have a sprinkling of little flags, placed here or there...some of the hillsides are covered with them.
Graves from every decade are marked with little flags. There are sections of the cemetery especially set aside as the resting place of veterans, and many headstones that clearly identify the veteran, the war - the company, or ship, or branch of service of that veteran. There is one gravestone that reads, "With Sherman to the Sea and Through the Carolinas...."
But most have no other indication that this is the final resting place of a veteran. Except for the little flags I saw this week.
Headstones are marked with a date of birth and a date of death. And alongside them, are the markers of spouses, and children, and sometimes several generations of family members. It is humbling to see how many among us have served. As it is in this quiet resting place, it is so among us now, today, downtown and in our neighborhoods.
The little American flags are a humbling visual aide - they remind me that every day, in our midst, walking among us - are veterans. The men and women who answered the call to selfless service when the United States of America and her people needed them. In times of peace, and times of war.
All the men in my family are veterans. Like most veterans, they are quietly humble about their service. They did what was right. They do not glorify their participation, they do not want any special recognition. They did what millions of Americans before them have done. They love their country and they served with honor.
I will spend the day carrying the memory of them - and their gifts to the greater good. The gift of living in the United States of America.
Thank you to Nick Scarvelis, Boy Scout Troop 33, and all the volunteers who helped to create this special tribute to veterans.
I have listed some of the local Veterans' Day services for 2010 below.
- Veterans' Day Service, Santa Barbara Cemetery, 9:00am
- Veterans' Day Ceremony, El Presidio, 10:30am (sbthp.org)
- Veterans' Day Program and Barbeque, Goleta Valley Community Center, 10:30am
- Vetrans' Day Program, 11:00am, Lompoc Veterans Memorial Building, 100 E. Locust Ave.
- Veterans' Day Program, 11:00am, Solvang Veterans Memorial Building, Mission Drive, Solvang
- Veterans' Day Program, Santa Maria Cemetery, 11:00am, College Drive (between Stowell and Battles Roads)
- Veterans' Day Ceremony, Pine Grove Cemetery, 11:00am (Bradley Road south of Rice Ranch Road), Santa Maria
- Veterans' Day Ceremony and Luncheon, 11:00am, Santa Maria Veterans’ Memorial Community Center, 313 W. Tunnell St, Santa Maria