Veterans Commission plans November ceremonies

MARTINEZ, Calif. – Taking the lead of the federal government, which will be observing Veterans Day Nov. 12, the Martinez Veterans Commission has agreed to have local ceremonies on that date.

A hundred years ago, the Treaty of Versailles, signed June 28, 1919 in France, ended World War I, or “The Great War” as it was known. But Nov. 11, 1918, has been considered the date when hostilities actually ceased.

An armistice between Allied nations and Germany became effective on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. In subsequent years, Nov. 11 was commemorated first as Armistice Day. The holiday was renamed Veterans Day in 1938 to recognize those who fought in more recent wars.

The Uniform Holiday Bill, approved in 1968, permitted moving holiday commemorations to other dates to give federal employees three-day weekends, although in 1975, President Gerald Ford returned Veterans Day to its original date, effective 1978, according to the Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs.

Generally, Veterans Day has continued to be observed on Nov. 11. But this year, that date is a Sunday. The federal holiday will be observed Nov. 12. After much discussion during the Veterans Commission meeting Tuesday night at City Hall, the panel agreed Martinez should do the same.

“I’d prefer it on the 11th,” chairperson Shane Bower said.

However, part of the city’s activities take place at Ignacio Plaza, not far from St. Catherine’s Catholic Church, and the program includes a 21-gun salute, members noted.

In addition, the city’s two programs have prayers and benedictions, and many clergy members would be on duty that day, Bower said.

If the date is unusual, the program will be familiar to those who have attended past ceremonies.

The first event will take place at 10 a.m. that day at Alhambra Cemetery, starting with bagpipe music and a prayer. It includes a flag raising, the pledge of allegiance, a welcome and introductions and the placing of a wreath of flowers. The first ceremony will close with a benediction and “Taps.”

At 11 a.m., a longer ceremony will take place at Ignacio Plaza, across from City Hall. Bagpipe music, a prayer and the raising of a flag also will open this ceremony, which will continue with the singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the pledge of allegiance, introductions and a welcome.

Messages delivered by U.S. Reps. Mike Thompson and Mark DeSaulnier, California Senator Bill Dodd and District 5 Contra Costa County Supervisor Federal Glover or their designees will precede the Veterans Day message, a remembrance and another musical selection. After a wreath is placed, the ceremony will conclude with a benediction, a 21-gun salute and “Taps.”

After the second ceremony, refreshments will be served at the Martinez Veterans Hall, 930 Ward St., to musical entertainment.

Several individuals and groups will be asked to participate, including Boy and Girl Scouts, the U.S. Sea Cadets, the Martinez Community Chorus, Bagpiper Scott Parker and the pastor of Creekside Church, the Rev. Terry Reilley.

Jennifer Oertel, who has been the bugler who played “Taps” at the conclusion of local Veterans Day and Memorial Day celebrations, will be away at college and won’t be available to participate, so the Commission is seeking someone to play the concluding song this year.

In other matters, the newly-appointed Jeff Roubal was sworn in as a member of the Commission.

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