A Quiet but Meaningful Veterans Day in Malibu

A cub scout hands out pins to veterans in attendance at the 2019 Malibu Veterans Day Public Ceremony at Malibu City Hall, last Nov. 11.

America honored its veterans last week on Nov. 11, as is tradition. However, this year’s was a quiet day to celebrate and pay respect to those who have served our country in the armed forces, with no grand parades or public gatherings due to the ongoing pandemic.

Malibu’s Veterans Day Public Ceremony Committee was not about to let a pandemic hinder its 21-year tradition honoring local veterans and those far and wide. A virtual celebration entitled “Honoring Heroes and Legends of Past, Present and Future” aired on Veterans Day and is still available to watch online at bit.ly/MalibuVetsDay2020.

Twenty years of past Veterans Day celebrations at Malibu City Hall and Legacy Park were edited together by Matthew Williams in a loving tribute sponsored in part by The Malibu Times.

The presentation features many Malibu children and adults singing patriotic tributes to our local veterans in years past. There are dynamic retro swing dancers recreating the style of entertainment favored back in the days of the 1940s when most young men were called to service during WWII.

One vet, Mike La Vere, spoke of his days in the U.S. Army. He enlisted at just 18 years of age. Shipped out to Biloxi, Miss., for training, La Vere became a navigator. At that very young age, La Vere flew 36 combat missions and fought with Allied Forces on historic D-Day—a combined naval, air and land assault that signaled a turning point in the war to reclaim Europe from the Nazis. La Vere received applause—gratitude for his courage, fortitude and sacrifice, on behalf of himself and all the others involved in that historic struggle.

Malibu’s video tribute features quite a few nonagenarians, those known as “The Greatest Generation” who served during WWII, and quite a few younger veterans as well. In fact, there are so many veterans attending Pepperdine University now it hired retired USAF Colonel Eric Leshinsky as the new director of student veteran affairs. The retired colonel appears on tape speaking about his new position at the university. After a 27-year career in the U.S. Air Force, Leshinsky now represents more than 360 students including veterans, military family members and reserve officer training corps (ROTC) cadets at Pepperdine. Leshinsky thanked those watching for their support. 

“Sadly, that support has not always been there for our veterans of the past and it’s not a guarantee in the future,” Leshinsky said. “Their resolve and commitment to God and country cannot be broken. I pray we will always remember veterans of the past, honor the veterans of today and always support those willing to answer our nation’s call.”

Pepperdine President James Gash echoed those sentiments.

“To serve in the armed forces requires one to be filled with a deep conviction and belief in the incalculable value of life and freedom,” Gash said. “The value of these precious commodities can only be measured by those willing to sacrifice their lives to save others and protect a nation built on freedom.”

Longtime event coordinator Ani Dermenjian also appeared in the video to salute the troops.

“Although I don’t come from a military background, my husband Raffi and I feel that every single soldier is a brother, a sister, a mother, a father—certainly a member of our family indeed,” she said.

As another commenter in the video said: “For all the freedoms we have, you can thank a veteran.”