[KHTS] – Dozens of Santa Clarita residents and veterans came to the Santa Clarita Rotary Garden Saturday morning to honor many of the Santa Clarita Valley’s fallen military service members.
The Santa Clarita Valley Rotary Club and Elks Lodge 2379 honored the fallen SCV soldiers, sailors and Marines from the Korea and Vietnam conflicts.
“Today we honor the young lives that were sacrificed so we can live our lives in peace,” said Lou Esbin, president of the SCV Rotary Club. “They made the ultimate sacrifice so that we are safe from the ravage of the war.”
The memorial for the Korea and Vietnam casualties is placed next to the memorial to the SCV casualties from Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, who were honored at the Rotary Garden in 2010.
[Names and information about SCV’s fallen heroes, all wars]
The Santa Clarita Rotary Garden is located in the parking area of the Santa Clarita Sports Complex and overlooks the Aquatics Center.
“This place was chosen for a reason, the Rotary wheel and all that it stands for is meant to be a beacon of hope upon the youth, families and people of the city of Santa Clarita,” said Esbin.
Bill Reynolds, a Vietnam veteran, read the names of 19 fallen SCV military personnel from the Vietnam and Korean conflicts who were honored at the ceremony.
“Let’s hope the day comes when no more tiles need to be added to SCV Rotary Club Fallen Heroes Memorial Tile Garden,” said Esbin. “I long for the day when I can stand here and we can say, ‘no more.’ Until that day arrives, this place will be the place where the people of the city of Santa Clarita know the SCV Rotary Club recognizes and dedicates itself to those who have sacrificed.”
Councilman Dante Acosta (foreground); Background: Duane Harte, Chair, SCV Veterans Memorial Committee.
Santa Clarita Councilman Dante Acosta’s oldest cousin served in Vietnam, and his father-in-law served in Korea.
“We’re going to stand in for those families from Vietnam and from Korea who couldn’t be here today,” said Acosta.
Acosta’s oldest son, Army Spec. Rudy Acosta, was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2011.
“A place like this is special. You can come and think about yourself, your own service, but particularly about your lost comrades,” said Acosta. “What a heartfelt feeling it is to come here and be able to meditate, what a beautiful spot the city has allowed us and the Rotary and Elks have put in time and effort and energy to be here and be able to build something so beautiful.”
Every Santa Clarita City council member has either served personally served, had a child serve or a spouse serve in the United States military, said Acosta.
“The Elks in this community have been and continue to be part of the veterans group that supports our veterans today, supports them from the past and will support them in the future,” said Jay Larkins, a member of Elks Lodge 2379.
Elks Lodge 2379, located on Sierra Highway, has 650 members with almost 200 of those members that have military service, according to Larkins.
Bugler Lenny Schaustal, a Korean War veteran and part of the first Marine Division of Santa Clarita, played “Taps” to close the ceremony.