Every year, the U.S. celebrates Veterans Day on Nov. 11. In honor of the holiday, The Malibu Navy League, Pepperdine University, Malibu Association of Realtors, and The City of Malibu held the 23rd Annual Veterans Day ceremony at Malibu Jewish Center to honor four special veterans: Ethel Margolin, Ed Reynolds, Keisha Diane Johnson, and Tom Lubisich.
The Malibu Navy League is a nonprofit civilian organization founded in 1902 dedicated to educating the public and elected officials about the importance of the nation’s sea services: Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and U.S.-flag Merchant Marines.
This year’s theme was “Medals of America.”
The ceremony had an array of government speakers, performers and of course, stories shared by veterans.
The ceremony began with Mayor Paul Grisanti introducing Master of Ceremonies Chris Garcia.
Garcia introduced the U.S. Sea Cadets Langley Division Color Guard, who presented the colors.
Pepperdine University President James. A. Gash acknowledged the veterans with an invocation.
“I’m here to give thanks to honor our veterans, those who have dedicated themselves to defending and protecting the liberty and freedom you have given us, and the cost of the ultimate sacrifice so that liberty and freedom when you preserve and protect our highest values,” Gash said.
Sakeenah Godfrey sang the national anthem, and Boy Scout Troop 224 led the Pledge of Allegiance.
The first veteran to be honored was Margolin, who served in the U.S. Women’s Army Corps. Margolin and her siblings grew up with Russian immigrant parents and worked in their laundry service, where Walt Disney was once a client.
“The year is 1939 when a charming young woman, Ethel Margolin, graduated from James Monroe High School in the Bronx New York and since her brothers and many of her classmates were joining the military, she decided to follow and join as well,” Garcia shared.
After basic training, she was offered a field commission which she ultimately rejected to earn her way up. During World War II, Margolin worked in factories as one of the originals Rosie the Riveters. Margolin recently celebrated her 100th birthday.
“I’m very honored to be here; this great master of ceremonies (Garcia) said so much about it, and I really appreciate it,” Margolin said.
Singer Yolanda Tolentino performed “God Bless the USA.” Tolentino has several family members serving in the Army, the Navy, and the Marines.
Malibu Poet Laureate Ann Buxie provided a poem titled “Combat,” and Claire Anneet sang “Amazing Grace.”
Johnson thanked the audience members for honoring veterans and thanked the veterans for sharing their stories.
“I followed your footsteps, so thank you very much,” Johnson said.
Our Lady of Malibu fifth-grade student Ayla Aminzadeh presented a poem called “Tribute to Veterans.”
The audience also enjoyed a performance from LA Swing Posse and the trumpet by Steven Ravaflioli for taps on bugle.
Malibu Mayor Paul Grisanti, Mayor Pro Tem Bruce Silverstein, and Councilmembers Karen Farrer and Mikke Pierson honored the veterans with certificates.
Malibu Jewish Center and Synagogue Rabbi Cantor Marcelo Gindlin shared a prayer, and the ceremony ended with a sing-along led by Godfrey, Tolentino, Anneet, and Karrie Benoit-Morales.
“I went up to thank the veterans and that one that cried and smiled, just made my day, it was so special,” Malibu Navy League Committee Member Ani Dermenjian said. “And that’s why we do it, to put a smile on a veteran.”
The Malibu Navy League also coordinates the Toys for Tots program in Malibu, as part of a national effort run by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve since 1947 to distribute toys to children. This year the event will be on Dec. 7 at First Bank Malibu in the Cross Creek Road shopping center.
“As always, Ani’s (Dermenjian) group did a terrific job pulling together talent from the community and local veterans to honor and it just brought so many people, including me, to tears,” Grisanti said.