TWENTYNINE PALMS — Veterans who have come to call the Morongo Basin their home were praised for their contributions when the city hosted a Veterans Day tribute Monday, Nov. 11, at Veterans Park.
One of those veterans, Carl Gorham, 95, served in the Marine Corps in the South Pacific during World War II. Originally from Ohio, he joined the Marine Corps right out of high school.
He sat in the front row of Monday’s celebration with Vivian, his wife of 72 years, and stood to acknowledge applause more than once during the ceremony.
In his invocation, Councilman McArthur Wright asked that veterans and their sacrifices be remembered.
“Let no one feel forgotten or neglected,” he prayed. “Place in the path of our veterans those who do understand.”
In his welcoming address, Mayor Steven Bilderain spoke of visiting the Twentynine Palms Public Cemetery and seeing all the flags placed on the graves of veterans.
“Our city is enriched with veterans,” he said. “Veterans are sewn into the fabric of our city.”
He said veterans coming from many places have made Twentynine Palms a true melting pot.
“That’s what makes out city great. We are diverse,” he said. “Our veterans come in with new ideas. I chose Twentynine Palms to be my home.”
“The worst thing in the world, I think, is to be forgotten,” Congressman Paul Cook said. “I’m always afraid that as a society, we won’t care about veterans.”
He spoke about the day he was gifted with the task of cleaning a portion of the Vietnam War Memorial Wall. Choosing a section that included the names of people he served with, he remembered every name and date, he said.
“I felt honored being there, cleaning that wall,” he said. “Thank you for remembering.”
Master Chief Hospital Corpsman Fernanda J. Casad, command master chief at the hospital on board the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, spoke of growing up in Mexico and dreaming of going to the United States of America.
“I pretended my dolls spoke English to each other,” she said. “I used to imagine what it would be like to live in the United States.”
Sgt. Maj. Michael Bolyard of the Marine Corps Communications-Electronics School praised the veterans in the audience.
“I look out at the crowd and I see greatness,” he said. “Thank you, veterans. I am here today because of you.”