Catalina recognizes those who have served

Photo by Ted Apodaca VFW Post Commander Richard Huband led the celebration of those who have served America in the armed forces.

VFW Post 4682 leads annual Veteran’s Day celebration

Avalon’s annual Veteran’s Day celebration to honor those who have served our country is not a long, overblown event. But the small ceremony has become an important event for islanders and visitors who make the trip regularly to pay tribute.

Last week’s ceremony was again organized by the Avalon VFW Post, which provided three of its members to present the colors and bring the flag to the front of the memorial at Veteran’s Memorial Park. The presentation of the colors was done by VFW Post 4682 members, Army Airborne Vietnam Veteran, Tony Cervantez, Terry Felts and Post Commander Richard Huband.

Huband presided over the ceremony and opened up the event to allow people to speak.

One of those who chose to speak was Navy veteran and long-time Catalina visitor Don Callaway. Callaway lives in Vista California, but has been a frequent visitor to the island much of his life. He said he makes it a point to come to the island for this ceremony every year.

“This is a small town with an outpouring of love, respect and honor for their veterans,” Callaway said.

He also noted that his mother was buried at sea in the waters outside of Lover’s Cove, so it’s usually an extended visit for him and his wife.

His wife makes a bunch of boutonniere style flowers with red, white and blue ribbons to give away to veterans.

Don said some people have told him that they’ve amassed a collection of 10 or 12 boutonniere flowers over the year.

“So we come to visit mom, pay our respects to the veterans and my wife makes the flowers and all these things,” Callaway said.

The Callaway’s good friend Roger Jorgenson, who lives in Florida, made the trip this year. Without his wife, this time, as she recently passed away. However, over the years, he said he and his wife have made the trip to join the Callaway’s for Veteran’s Day and a trip to Catalina.

“It’s always been one of the places we’ve come to with them, we enjoy the island, we love the island,” Jorgenson said.

Joining Huband for the event was his wife Danenne and daughter Spirit, who were giving out small artificial poppy flowers and taking donations for the Avalon VFW Post. Poppies have become symbolic of Veteran’s Day and were even adopted as the official flower of the American Legion. They have also become symbolic of those who’ve been lost in combat. The Inspiration came from the World War I era poem “In Flanders Fields.” The opening lines refer to poppies as the first flowers to grow in the soil from soldiers’ graves in Belgium.

For the VFW fundraiser, the poppies are part of a donation drive to raise money for their programs. While the VFW stands for Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Avalon Post offers services to any veterans, regardless of whether or not they served in a combat zone. The Avalon VFW uses money to help veterans in need of support for overtown travel for medical treatments or other needs. They host dinners for veterans monthly and they also offer scholarships for students.

The Avalon VFW Post also provides some upkeep and recognition for the veterans who are buried on the island. They will provide flags for the gravesites on holidays and provide some maintenance, on the mounted plaques, for example.

“We make sure that every year those are fresh and repainted, or replaced for veterans’ honors,” Commander Huband said.

The Avalon VFW Post is continuing to raise money to support veterans and they are looking for businesses who are willing to host a poppy donation box.

Those who are interested can contact Commander Huband at 562-320-4396 for more information.

Catalina recognizes those who have served