Celebrating it’s the 13th year, the AV Wall, the mobile Vietnam Memorial wall, held a Veterans Day ceremony on Nov. 11, 2022, in Marie Kerr Park, Palmdale, Calif.
Stacia Nemeth, treasurer of Point Man Antelope Valley, opened the ceremony by welcoming the community.”I want you, the veterans, to know that you are the VIPs today, you are the special guests,” she said. “We are all here to say ‘thank you’ today. Our ceremony today is our very small way of showing you our love, our honor and appreciation of you.”
This year theme was Gratitude for our Veterans. Nemeth explained that City of Palmdale and the AV Wall committee host this celebration to let the veterans know that we are grateful for their service and sacrifice. “We would not be here today if it were not for those of you who stood up, took an oath and offered to pay the ultimate sacrifice if necessary. We are profoundly grateful.”
Under the direction of Cadet 1st Lt. Kathlina Cortez, the Highland High Air Force Junior ROTC CA-99, Littlerock High Army Junior ROTC and Antelope Valley High Navy Junior ROTC present the colors during the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem.
In keeping with the theme of gratitude to our veterans, several local community members spoke about their personal gratitude to the veterans. Bombshell Bonnie, president and founder of Bombshell Betty’s calendars for charity; Steve Willis, logistics coordinator, AV Wall Committee; and Bella Donna, community representative for Bombshell Betty. Joe Ramos, Senior Adviser and Outreach Specialist, U.S.A Vietnam War Commemoration also spoke.
Nemeth introduced the gratitude speakers.
“While they are not veterans or married to veterans but they devote the greater part of their days helping and honoring veterans,” she said. “While many of our veteran support organizations are run and coordinated by military veterans, these individuals are average citizens who do what they do for veterans out of their deep respect and gratitude.”
Bombshell Bonnie, explained the formation of the Bombshell Betty’s charity. In 2015, she visited her father’s gravesite at the Lancaster Cemetery.
“On a cold December day, I forced myself to visit my father’s grave,” she said. “This was not a willful act as I had not yet experienced the quietness in my heart when I thought of his passing.”
At the cemetery, she saw a field of wreaths covering the ground. “My father’s name was not known by many people, you won’t find his name in history books. In the great scheme of things, his place would be very small. But to me and my two adopted brothers, his name meant everything.” Above her father’s headstone was a wreath. After visiting the website of Wreaths Across America, she learned that every wreath placed was saluted and the servicemen’s name was spoken.
Bombshell Betty’s was conceived in 2016 and the heartbeat behind it was those wreaths. She initially spoke to Jack Willbert, vice president of Vets for Veterans, about her idea for the calendar, and the desire to raise money for Wreathes Across America. She then spoke to Tom Hilzendeger, who would offer her a free booth at a veterans event. Because Tom and Jack believed in her project, she would receive the first $100 sponsor.
The ceremony concluded with the Vietnam Veteran Pin Distribution and Armed Forces Medley.