Community members gathered at Philip Marx Central Park for the American Legion Post 221's annual Veteran's Day program to pay their respects to those who serve and have served in our country's military.
Close to 100 people encircled the monument dedicated to more than 20 local Gold Star veterans, and were present to view the flag raising ceremony at 11:11 a.m., as well as a wreath laying ceremony presented by Beverly Hagan and Bob Cree.
Norm Clendenin, a member of the National Legislative Council for the American Legion, headed the assembly along with members of Tehachapi Police Pipes and Drums.
"Since our nation's founding, America has been blessed with men and women who courageously served in the name of peace and freedom," he said. "They sacrificed and demonstrated strength, determination, and bravery. Around the world, our veterans have always been there to defend all of us and we owe them a debt of gratitude," he went on.
Clendenin continued to outline the history of Veteran's Day, which originally evolved from Armistice Day, marking the truce between Germany and the Allies of World War I in 1918.
According to Clendenin, California has the highest concentration of veterans of any state in the country, and added that there is pressing need to repay our veterans for their service.
"It is tragic that the men and women who allow us to be safe in our homes are often without homes themselves when they shed their uniforms," he said. "One-in-four of America's homeless population are veterans. Nine-out-of-ten were honorable discharged and nearly half served during the Vietnam War," he went on.
Among those present was 92-year-old John Grenek, a Tehachapi resident and veteran who served during World War II and fought during the invasion of Normandy. Grenek was present with his wife, Jane.
Grenek was in the first group of Word War II veterans in Kern County that were rewarded with a trip to Washington, D.C. through the Honor Flight Network.
Also in attendance was 21-year-old Korye Rodriguez who was there to honor his grandfather who served in the Marines. Rodriguez is currently a student at College of the Canyons and plans to enlist in the Army next June.
"We have so many opportunities in this country, and I believe they are worth fighting for," he said.