Long Beach State Veterans Services held a Veterans Day celebration in front of the 49er Shops Bookstore on Wednesday, Nov. 10, honoring veterans and remembering the War in Afghanistan.
The celebration consisted of speeches from multiple guest speakers and the unveiling of a new painting that will be displayed in the Office of Veterans Services. A cake cutting also took place in honor of the 246th anniversary of the establishment of the United States Marine Corps.
Director of Veterans Services Martiz Ware began the celebration by singing the National Anthem, accompanied by members of the CSULB ROTC. He later addressed aspects of life for people who have served, expressing that the honor of serving in the military to him is the same as the honor of being a father and husband.
Ware also brought attention to how the war in Afghanistan, the longest war in U.S. history, had recently ended on Aug. 30. He solemnly recognized those who fell in the war and gave a salute for all who have served in the military.
“Those who have fell, they made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation,” Ware said. “We live on in honor of them.”
The keynote speaker was Dr. Marshall Thomas, Director of Active Duty and Veterans Affairs at the CSU Chancellor’s Office, who worked as the Director of Veterans Services at CSULB for 17 years and served in the United States Marine Corps for six years.
Thomas briefly detailed the history of Veterans Day, saying that it started as Armistice Day in celebration of the end of World War I, and how after World War II it was changed to what we now know in the U.S. as Veterans Day. Thomas then spoke about his experience as a veteran and verbalized what the phrase “thank you for your service” means to someone who has served.
“I want to encourage you to do this a little bit differently from this point forward, instead of automatically saying thank you for your service, take a moment to ask a couple questions,” Thomas said. “I say this a lot but my mantra about this is ‘thank from the heart don’t just thank out of habit.’”
Then, Ware introduced Dr. Naomi Rainey-Pierson, an educator and civil rights activist who is the current President of the NAACP Long Beach branch and of whom the Naomi Rainey House is named after. Ware and Thomas then presented Rainey with a certificate of appreciation from Veterans Services in honor of her work with veterans.
“I thank you so much for this honor, I thank all of the veterans for their service, and I ask each one of you to not just applaud them because they look nice in their uniforms, but applaud them for the service that they give to our country and for the peace process that they work on daily for us, let us remember them not just today but every day,” Rainey-Pierson said. “I thank you and it’s good to be back at The Beach.”
The ceremony concluded with the unveiling of a painting meant to commemorate the war in Afghanistan, painted by artist Sarah Rossetti and presented by Harrison Schofield, an accounting major at CSULB who served in Afghanistan and saw action at the battles of Marjah and Sangin in 2010.
During the celebration, Schofield spoke about the war, detailing how many soldiers were deployed and killed in action over the last 20 years. He then said that since the start of the war, over 30 thousand U.S. veterans have committed suicide, imploring veterans to seek out other veterans and ask for help if they are struggling.
“If I have learned anything over the last two years it is that isolation is an ally of depression,” Schofield said. “Inversely, community must be depression’s enemy.”
Schofield concluded by reciting a poem written by an Afghan war veteran before Ware returned to the podium to give the closing remarks.
“War is never easy, those who have been in it and seen it you know we come back different than the way we went,” Ware said. “Not all of us come back whole, we leave a little bit of us there on the desert.”