I’ll be Home for Christmas If only in my dreams
Love and support for our military was overwhelming, as the Red, White & Blue Christmas tree, and Hanukkah Menorah were lit Saturday night, December 7, at the Veterans Historical Plaza in Newhall. Serving as master of ceremonies was Dante Acosta, beloved Gold Star Dad, prior 38th District Assemblyman, and former Santa Clarita Councilmember. Heartfelt prayers were given by Pastor Paul Veluzat, and Pastor John Stratton as military members, past and present, were honored at the annual event. Pastor John, local music artist, and his wife Marina performed a breathtaking duet of “O Holy Night”, followed by John singing a heartfelt “I’ll be Home for Christmas”, as the tree and menorah were lit.
Councilmembers Laurene Weste, Bill Miranda, and Mayor Pro Tem Cameron Smythe joined Mayor Marsha McLean on stage, as she proudly spoke about the military photos in the tree. Photos of local active duty service members are laminated on Blue Stars. veterans on White Stars or Angels, and Gold Stars for a loved one that died while serving. A New Blue Star was added for USMC LCpl Jacob Castillo, former SCV Young Marine, who just returned home from deployment. Another New Blue Star for our newest marine, recently graduating boot camp, Pfc Dominick Romeo.
Iraq War veteran and highly decorated Navy fighter pilot, Mike Garcia was honored to be the guest speaker at this very special event. He spoke about the importance of supporting one another, especially those who were not here to celebrate at the ceremony. Garcia said, “Let’s remember that we are blessed to be here, and to have what folks on these memorials around us fought for, and in many cases, died for. The simple act of lighting the tree and menorah behind me, is the moment we bond, as Americans.”
The Messick Family Singers, a favorite SCV group with four generations of close harmonies, and regular performers at the Cowboy Festival, sang a beautiful medley of Christmas songs and carols.
A New Blue Star was added to the tree this year for Virginia’s son Colin, a new soldier. SCV Young Marines, event partners for many years, performed a wreath laying ceremony for our fallen. Followed by John and Marina Stratton performing one of John’s original songs, “The Unsung Hero”, then giving his closing prayer. The evening ended with the Messick Family Singers, inviting everyone to sing along with “Silent Night”. A very special night for military families, veterans, and community.
Santa Clarita’s 14th Annual Military Honor Christmas Tree & Menorah Lighting, was hosted by Suzon Gerstel, President of Prayer Angels for the Military, Inc. Co-hosting this year was Bill Reynolds, President of SCV Veterans Memorial, Inc. with local military/Veteran’s groups assisting. Supported by the City of Santa Clarita.
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