By Dave Schwab
The Bishop’s School and Mount Soledad Memorial Association are among the many organizations hosting ceremonies honoring Veterans Day this year.
The memorial association ceremony will be held from noon to 1:15 p.m. on Nov. 6, ahead of the Nov. 11 holiday. It will include a special plaque presentation honoring Medal of Honor recipient Michael A. Monsoor, a Navy SEAL killed during the Iraq War when he “smothered" a grenade explosion to save his comrades.
Bishop’s is hosting an all-school assembly for students only on Nov. 11 when Archie “Joe” Biggers, a retired Marine Corps lieutenant colonel, will speak. The school’s chapel will be open during the day so community members may light a candle in memory of a loved one who has served or to honor current service men and women.
Letter writing materials will also be available in the chapel for students to write letters to soldiers now serving in the military.
At Mount Soledad ceremony, members of Monsoor’s family and a contingent of 20 SEALS will attend. Lt. Cmdr. John “Jocko” Willink will speak about his teammate, Monsoor.
The keynote address will be presented by Rear Admiral Edward G. Winters, Commander Naval Special Warfare Command
Music will be provided by Navy Band Southwest Brass Quintet and the ceremony will conclude once again with a fly-over of 12 T-34 aircraft.
Bob Phillips, honorary Mt. Soledad trustee who has organized the veteran’s group’s military holiday observances for years, said they’re monumental undertakings.
“We really plan six months in advance for Veterans Day starting almost immediately after Memorial Day,” he said, noting a person with name recognition and living relations is always sought to build the ceremony around.
High-visibility military personnel recognized in the past include Gen. George S. Patton, Admiral Nimitz, former presidents Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan and actor Jimmy Stewart.
“We always try to do something that is a little unique,” said Phillips noting this year’s aircraft flyover will be especially spectacular because there is a beefed-up contingent of T-34s in for a national convention in San Diego.
Phillips added the Memorial Association is near completing Phase 1 of the renovation of its mountaintop memorial on Soledad. “We have under 400 black granite blacks remaining on our six memorial walls,” he noted adding 3,000 brick “pavers” laid out in a serpentine pattern on the memorial’s brick walkways can be purchased by non-veterans for $100 before Nov. 15, $150 after, to honor the military.
Another goal of the memorial association is to recruit and reach out to more veterans.
“Our membership is currently running at a little over 650 and one of our major goals is to try and expand,” said Phillips. “Also, upwards of 40 percent of our members live either within visual site of the memorial or within 2 or 3 miles of it. We also want people to know that plaques can be purchased for the living as well as the deceased.”