Hundreds of community members clutching American flags packed McCambridge Park on Monday as elected officials honored generations of men and women who've fought wars to defend the United States.
“You are our heroes,” a kindergartner at St. Robert Bellarmine Catholic School chirped into the microphone, just before she and her classmates sang “God Bless the USA” for the crowd.
At Burbank's annual Veterans Day Ceremony -- hosted by the Burbank Veterans Committee and the city on the day after the actual holiday -- officials commemorated service members from each branch of the military: the Army, Coast Guard, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.
“This is your day -- enjoy it,” said Burbank Veterans Committee Chair Mickey DePalo, just before Burbank High School's Gentlemen Octet sang the national anthem.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) recalled a young marine he met who was returning home from a 16-month stint overseas, only to have his wife be deployed shortly after. He remembered the sergeant who, whenever he heard a Honda Civic car door slam, thought it sounded like a mortar explosion and “felt like hitting the deck.”
“I've met some of the most courageous, bright, dedicated young people in places like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Iraq,” Schiff said.
Mayor Dave Golonski called on residents to more actively support troops in the field and veterans who have returned home.
“Maybe it's inviting your neighbors over to write letters to people in the service,” he said. “Maybe it's holding a little party collecting items Hands Across the Battlefield is looking for.”
Since forming in 2001, Hands Across the Battlefield has shipped more than 50 tons of items to troops overseas, DePalo said.
“We need to wage a war to help our returning veterans -- it needs to be a multi-front war with lots of troops,” Golonski said. “You are the troops that we need."
[For the Record Nov. 13: An earlier version of this story mistakenly excluded the Navy from the list of military branches.]
-- Alene Tchekmedyian, Times Community News