Veterans: Pepperdine University will illuminate the Phillips Theme Tower to mark Veterans Day. Courtesy photo

This Friday Nov. 11 marks the country’s 68th commemoration of Veterans Day as a federal holiday and Santa Monica has a full lineup of events to celebrate the occasion and honor local veterans.

The City will kick off the day at 11 a.m. at the Pier parking deck with the national anthem and posting of the colors. A slate of speakers and special guests will be present including Mayor Sue Himmelrich, City Council member Gleam Davis, Scott Painter, an Army veteran and founder of multiple Santa Monica companies, Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army Sonki Hong and Congressman and retired Air Force Reserve Colonel Ted Lieu. The event will also feature a swearing in ceremony for future soldiers as well as a blues band performance.

Senior living community Brookdale Santa Monica Gardens will also be hosting a Veteran’s Day celebration for its residents Friday – which includes many veterans – during which veteran officers from the Santa Monica Police Department’s plan to present Veterans Day certificates to the residents in recognition of their service. The ceremony will be followed by a BBQ for local veterans and their families.

“For Brookdale Santa Monica Gardens it is very important for us to recognize our veterans and their service and dedication to our country. They are very proud to have served and show their patriotism daily,” Resident Programs Manager Liliana Leiva said. “We felt it would be important for our own community heroes like the SMPD  to connect with our Veteran heroes and recognize their impact on our country and society. We are very thankful and honored for all our veterans.”

Tess Banko, a local Marine Corp veteran and Community Development Director for The Veterans Collective, said she thinks the holiday is an important way to both acknowledge and learn from veterans.

“I think it’s important that Veterans Day is celebrated because it offers the opportunity for veterans and non-veterans to come together and for an understanding to be built on information of what it is to serve,” she said.

She added that local events like the ones happening in Santa Monica this week are valuable ways to foster this connection.

“There are a variety of ways that people can engage on Veterans Day,” she said. “One of the best ways is to find community events that are occurring around veterans day and make it a point to attend, meet veterans, seek out their stories and ask questions – I think that’s really important.”

Veterans Day is celebrated nationally on November 11th of every year to commemorate the day in 1918 on which the armistice agreement that ended World War I was signed. It was initially designated as “Armistice Day,” but later changed to “Veterans Day” to honor all US men and women who have served.

Banko said it is important to recognize the diversity of the individuals who make up the veteran community.

“When we’re talking about the military and veterans, it’s not one homogeneous group, it’s people from all walks of life,” she said. “I think looking forward to Veterans Days in the future, one of the things I would really appreciate is hearing more diverse veteran stories and learning more about veteran backgrounds.”

The City’s Veterans Day celebration is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. and the Brookdale BBQ and certificate ceremony starts at 10:30 a.m.

Slightly farther afield, Pepperdine University will be lighting up its Phillips Theme Tower in a bold purple color to honor veterans, a rare event for the 125-foot tall structure.

The Santa Monica Elks Lodge is also having a veterans appreciation night Friday at 6:15 p.m. with a free beef stroganoff dinner for all veterans who RSVP to (310) 452-3557.

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