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Significance of Veterans’ Day hits home with youth

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Significance of Veterans’ Day hits home with youth

Junie Argoncillo takes a break from skateboarding to scan the names on the Veterans Wall at Valverde Park. A Lathrop High grad, Argoncillo now has friends in the military – something that drives th...


POSTED November 13, 2012 1:08 a.m.

LATHROP – The bitter cold that engulfed the weekend had all but burned off by Monday afternoon.

And in the shadow of the Lathrop Veteran’s Wall at Valverde Park, Junie Argoncillo made passes on his skateboard and took the time periodically to sit and dial in his music before making another run.

He didn’t realize that just a few hours before dozens of local veterans had surrounded that wall to pay tribute to all of those who donned a uniform in the name of protecting American freedoms and liberty – an annual event held to honor those who answered the call, and those who never made it home.

But that didn’t stop him from having a moment of reflection.

“It’s a day when we thank the people for their service. They gave us everything,” said Argoncillo – a Lathrop High grad who noted that he now has friends serving in the Armed Forces. “I hope that they (my friends) are all safe right now. God bless them.”

The moving ceremony that drew people from every branch of the service was anchored by a pair of speakers, Master Sergeant Trish Backers taking top billing and Choice Glover assuming an honorary post. The ceremony began at 11 a.m. – representing the signing of the Armistice on Nov. 11 to formally end World War I.

Pastor Arabella Whitlock of Lathrop Christian Center gave the invocation while Pastor Johnny Clark of Living Word Ministries delivered the benediction.

“I was really surprised at how many people we had here today,” said Veterans Committee member Arnita Montiel – whose two brothers served in World War II, late husband Jim served in the United States Marine Corps, nephew Brock Elliott laid down his life as the first local serviceman killed in the Vietnam War and grandson served in Operation Iraqi Freedom.  “This is a day that is and will forever be near-and-dear to my heart. People from every walk of life served our country – some gave their lives to keep our country free.

“We cannot forget our veterans, and I’m thankful that I live in a community where remembering them is important. “

Despite the fact that the actual holiday fell on a weekend, Sergio Gomes said that he still took the time to put the flag out in his front yard Monday morning as a way of saying thanks to those who afforded him the opportunities he enjoys today.

Making sure that the youth – who were plentiful on the basketball courts at Valverde Park with Monday an official school holiday – recognize what it is that they’re actually home for, he said, is crucial.

“Growing up my father made sure that we realized that Veterans Day had meaning and we knew what it was that we were observing,” he said. “I want to pass that on to my kids and hopefully their friends pick it up as well. So many people served this country – it’s only right that we say thanks.”

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