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Calendar >  Veterans Day Picnic at the Elks Lodge

Veterans Day Picnic at the Elks Lodge

By   /  November 15, 2018  /  1 Comment


Pat Murphy

It was a crazy week. It was a week full of bad news. There were mass shootings and horrific fire storms. Many people suffered during this time. Lives were lost, homes were destroyed, and those not directly affected felt the sympathetic pain while watching or listening to news broadcasts. Politics continued to be divisive and at times it felt like the whole world was coming apart. Then, we attended an event that warmed our hearts to the core and sparked hope for the future.

What event you might ask? It was the annual Veterans Day Picnic at the Vista Elks Lodge (Lodge 1968). The picnic is open to the public and is attended by members and guests of the Vista Elks. The Lodge holds many events that include; Dinners, Dances, Bingo Nights, and a wonderful Holiday program for Special needs students in North County.

This Veterans Day saw the patio area behind the main Lodge building crowded to overflow. If you weren’t there early you were sitting on the tables alongside the Bocce Ball Court. A Granddaughter of Elk member Hank DiTomasso had driven all the way from Santa Barbara, while detouring the road blockages, to help him celebrate.

Photos by Pat Murphy

It was a festive event. Ladies from the Lodge had decorated the shaded tables with red, white, & blue decorations and a USA Flag. The large stone BBQ was fired up with hamburgers and hotdogs sizzling on the grill. A buffet line at the edge of the patio provided, plates, utensils, sliced tomatoes, fresh lettuce, pickles, potato salad, and BBQ beans.

The traditional MIA-POW table was along another side of the patio. The table is round, “to show our everlasting concern.” and the cloth is white, “symbolizing the purity of their motives when answering the call to serve. A single red rose was laid on the table, “it reminds us of the lives of these Americans….and their loved ones and friends who keep the faith, while seeking answers.” A slice of lemon on a small plat was “to remind us of their bitter fate, captured and missing in a foreign land.” A pinch of salt symbolized, “the tears of our missing and their families – who long for answers after decades of uncertainty.” The candle, “reflects our hope for their return – alive or dead.” The Bible represents the strength gained through faith “to sustain us and those lost from our country, founded as one nation under God.” The glass is inverted, “to symbolize their inability to share a toast.” and the chairs are empty, “they are missing!”

The Young Marines of North County were there in force. Over two dozen of the uniformed young men and women put on a Veterans Day program to honor all the veterans at the picnic. They were militarily sharp as they paid tribute to the veterans who were assembled. The highlight was the performance of the Flag Folding Ceremony as the Adjutant for the Young Marines, Marie Smith, narrated the steps for each fold. I had never seen this before and I found it very moving. As I looked around the patio, I saw the rapt gazes of everyone else I knew they were feeling similar emotions.

Timothy Soboleski, Sgt Maj (USMC Ret.) and Vista Elk of the Year, took the podium after The Young Marines finished. He gave us a rendering of the history of Armistice Day.  The armistice was signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany for the cessation of hostilities. It took effect at eleven o’clock in the morning on the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918.

At the driveway entrance to the patio an entertainer by the name of Sonny Mayer took over the program. He engaged everyone with his patriotic songs and stories. When he played the Hymns for the various military branches the veterans who had served in that branch stood and sang loud. When he played America The Beautiful everyone was singing and as I looked out towards the rear parking lot I saw a group of the Young Marines standing reverently. Throughout the Veterans Day event the young men and women demonstrated immense respect for the flag of our country and for the veterans that have served our country.

As respected guests the Veterans at the Elks picnic did not have to pay for their lunch but there was an $8.00 cost for guests. Raffle tickets were being sold for dozens of succulent planters in all sizes and shapes. These attractive prizes had been artfully assembled by Elk member Doreen Kromer. I purchased some tickets and we luckily won the frog planter. It is right at home with all the other frogs in our home.

As the entertainment continued several Young Marines circulated table to table passing our “Red Cord” bracelets. Attached to the red cords were cards asking the recipient to wear the bracelet to show support for the Young Marine’s healthy, drug-free lifestyle. The bracelets are made out of 550 paracord and are a very bright red. This emphasis on anti-drug existence is part of their training as Young Marines. Once again I found myself being impressed and I quickly put my bracelet on. The Board of San Diego County Supervisors recently issued a proclamation to recognize the Young Marines Red Ribbon Week.

All too soon the entertainment ended and the 2018 picnic was over. Veterans and guests started exiting towards the parking lot. It was then I saw something that put a lump in my throat. An older veteran and his wife were walking down the walkway to the parking lot and the walkway was lined with Young Marines standing at attention and saluting. Yes, saluting! The Veteran held his wife’s hand in his left hand and returned the Young Marine’s salutes as they proceeded towards the parking lot. This was repeated for all the Veterans as they left, including yours truly.

This is why I started this article the way I did. These Young Marines, these young men and women ranging in age from 8 to 18 were so inspiring. My mind races with the thought of the impact they will have on their respective peers and siblings. These are the leaders of the future and watching them honor Veterans filled me with hope for the future.

The Young Marines is an award winning youth education and service program for boys and girls, ages 8 through completion of high school. The Young Marines promotes the mental, moral, and physical development of its members. The program focuses on character building, leadership, and promotes a healthy, drug-free lifestyle. The Vista Elks support the Young Marines and partner with them for numerous community projects. Contact Vista Elk Myra Walker for more information. She is the contact/liaison person at the Vista Elks Lodge.





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  • Published: 5 years ago on November 15, 2018
  • By:
  • Last Modified: November 15, 2018 @ 8:11 am
  • Filed Under: Local

1 Comment

  1. Cheri spencer says:

    Looking for Tim soboleski. 541 228 8081. Cheri spencer wm. 1973 8th and I.

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