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Veterans celebrated at Laguna Beach’s Legion Hall, which will receive an honor of its own on Saturday

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Dozens gathered for a Veterans Day event at Laguna Beach’s historic Legion Hall, the home of American Legion Post 222, to celebrate all veterans — those living and those who have died.

The event included veterans from around South Orange County, community groups that support veterans, and guest speakers Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris, D-Laguna Beach, and Laguna Beach Mayor Bob Whalen. The ceremony was held on the grass in front of Legion Hall, which is on Laguna’s Historic Registry and on Saturday will be declared a historic site by Daughters of the American Revolution.

“We are here today to offer thanks and to pay our respects to our veterans for their service and their sacrifices,” Whalen said. “It is safe to say that the country and the world we enjoy today would not be the same without the courage, dedication, sacrifice and bravery of the millions of American men and women who have served their country.”

Whalen referenced the last 100 years of military service and the role service members have played in protecting U.S. citizens and millions around the world from violence, repression and torture.

“As a country, we have not always agreed with how our military has been deployed or how long it should pursue a war,” he said. “But we must all agree that those who stepped up to serve always deserve our thanks and respect.”

Whalen’s words were especially meaningful to Marine veteran Eve Loftsgaard, of Dana Point, who served as a corporal and passenger transport clerk during the Vietnam War at the former Marine Corps Air Station El Toro.

“That was a pretty important job,” Loftsgaard, 69, said. “I was the first American girl they saw when they got off the planes. I’d give them their ground ticket to get as close to their front door as they could. One walked in and said to me, ‘I love you.’ The others all said, ‘Thank you, ma’am.’”

Despite the role she played, Loftsgaard said, she was embarrassed to admit she had served during Vietnam and rarely spoke of it until more recently.

“The mayor said the reason for war can be anything but people stood up for their country and they still need to be honored and respected,” she said. “To have people recognize the value is huge. People who served in Vietnam are some of the most gracious people we have.”

Loftsgaard and her husband, Richard Moore, who served at the Air Force Global Weather Central in Omaha, Neb., were named this year’s honored patriots.

It was Moore’s job as a captain to do weather forecasting during his time of service, from 1969 to 1971.

“I hope people who came here today recognize the importance of supporting veterans because our country’s conflicts will not go away and we will need a strong military,” Moore said. “It’s important to honor those who are alive and dead.”

Moore, who emceed the event, gave a brief history of how Veterans Day began, “in the 11th hour, on the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918.”

Darlene Bigos, of Laguna Woods Village, was at the event as a representative of the Patience Wright Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

On Saturday, Nov. 16, Bigos will present a plaque to Post 222, founded in 1919, that will recognize Legion Hall as a historic site. Legion Hall, a former Laguna Beach schoolhouse, in 1929 was rolled down the hill to its present location in the 300 block of Legion Street by World War I veterans balancing the structure on telephone poles.

Getting the recognition from Daughters of the American Revolution wasn’t easy.

“Just like we have to show our ancestors were revolutionary patriots,” Bigos said. “The packet we submitted for this historic site was at least six inches thick and quite extensive.”


Source: Orange County Register

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