WORDS & PHOTOS BY: MALISSA RAMOS
Veteran’s Day - a lot of people think of it as another day off work or school, but it’s so much more than that. It’s the official time of year to celebrate those who have served our country. I personally come from a military family; I have two brothers and three uncles who have served in the military. So to me, Veterans Day is a day to show our appreciation to our country’s servicemen.
Believe it or not, the city of Long Beach has a few nearby parks and spots that are dedicated to veterans. So I encourage you to go visit them and help us celebrate the heroes who have defended our country and helped make the U.S. what it is today.
Long Beach Veterans Parade
This Saturday November 7th was Long Beach’s 19th Annual Veteran’s Day Parade. The parade started at 10 a.m. and took place on Atlantic Avenue, from Harding to 56th Street. The parade consisted of veterans from every military branch, different Long Beach high school ROTC, policemen, firemen, and boy scouts. This year there were three Grand Marshall veterans. Two of the Grand Marshall’s were 100 years old!
After the parade, there was an all day event called Vets Fest. Vets Fest was an outdoor festival at Houghton Park that featured free food, music and a play area with bouncers for the children. Long Beach City Councilmen Rex Richardson organized the event and explained, “We are proud to honor our Veterans who served our country so proudly and heroically.”
Even on regular days when Veterans events aren’t being held, Houghton Park is still a dedicated spot for veterans. The park is located on Atlantic Avenue and Harding Street, in Long Beach. At Houghton Park is the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which was dedicated in 2000. The memorial features a U.S. Army helicopter, known to veterans as the Huey, to honor the 103 Long Beach residents who died during the Vietnam War.
Below the helicopter is a plaque that lists the name of the fallen Long Beach residents and says, “This memorial honors the men of Long Beach who paid the ultimate price for freedom in service to their country. They chose to serve, not run. They chose to obey, not defy. These qualities represent America’s best.”
Veterans Memorial Park
Another veterans spot in Long Beach is Veterans Memorial Park, located at 101 E 28th Street. The park is small in size and doesn’t have a memorial or a monument like Houghton does, but it was dedicated to veterans in August of 1952. The amenities at Veterans Memorial Park include basketball courts, a playground, tennis courts, and a youth recreation center. The park also includes a colorful mural dedicated to veterans and the Long Beach community.
Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier
Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier is another spot in Long Beach that is dedicated to veterans. The pier is located at 35 39th Place, Long Beach, California. The pier was originally built in 1915 and was known as the “Devil’s Gate”, but was renamed Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier in 2001 to honor the Long Beach area veterans. The pier has a snack shop, a bait shop and allows visitors to fish on the pier.
World War II Submarine Memorial West
Last but surely not least is the World War II Submarine Memorial West located at 800 Seal Beach Blvd, in Seal Beach. So it’s not exactly in Long Beach but it’s less than 5 miles away from CSULB so I thought I’d include it. This memorial was by far my favorite veterans destination.
The memorial was dedicated in 1977 and pays tribute to over 3,000 submarines who never returned from World War II. The memorial includes plaques for each of the 52 U.S submarines lost during the War, in addition to plaques representing submarines that were lost during the Cold War.
You walk towards the memorial and immediately you see the plaque that perfectly embodies the atmosphere that surrounds you. The plaque says, “Walk softly stranger, walk softly, you tread on hallowed ground,” and you feel just that. The only sounds you hear are the sounds of the wind from the cars driving by.
When I visited the memorial, I noticed two plaques were recently visited by loved ones. One of the plaques had a picture frame with pictures of the fallen soldier, while another had flowers in front of it.
Even if you don’t know soldiers or veterans personally, try to look at this Veterans day a little differently. Remember why we have this day off and appreciate all that has been done for our freedom and safety.