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article imageOne Town's Veteran's Day Celebration like so many across the USA Special

By Jonathan Farrell     Nov 14, 2016 in Lifestyle
Sonoma - While the annual breakfast at the Veteran's Memorial Building in Sonoma was "first come first serve" basis, there was plenty of fresh made pancakes, scrambled eggs and sausage to go around this past Friday Nov. 11.
Rev. Tim Arensmeier and wife Jan of the Sonoma Valley Community Church, were among those who gathered just after 9:AM to partake in the annual breakfast before a full commemoration program took place by 12 Noon.
Similar gatherings and commemorations were held across the country as the U.S. celebrated its 98th Veterans Day. For Sonoma, this Friday's observance was its 57th. The importance of the veterans of the U.S. Military is something that is very treasured by the people of Sonoma. Rev. Arensmeier and wife Jan are regulars at almost all veterans events and gatherings. Each year for Memorial Day they hand out the red 'buddy poppy.'
The history of Veterans Day as we know it, traces back to the end of World War I and Armistice Day on Nov. 11, 1918.
Rev. Tim Arensmeier and wife Jan were in attendance. Rev Arensmeier considers his participating in v...
Rev. Tim Arensmeier and wife Jan were in attendance. Rev Arensmeier considers his participating in veterans events as part of his ministry and outreach.
"The buddy poppy is the official memorial flower of the [Veterans of Foreign Wars]," said Arensmeier. "The small red poppies are assembled by hand by veterans in [Veterans Affairs] hospitals nationwide. The VFW uses the donations collected for buddy poppies to help fund veterans assistance. Proceeds also help in the funding of rehabilitation services and programs for veterans in need. Made famous by the poem "Flanders Fields," the little red poppy has been distributed by veterans since 1922.
Seen everywhere the  Buddy poppy  has become a symbol of Veterans organizations for decades.
Seen everywhere the 'Buddy poppy' has become a symbol of Veterans organizations for decades.
In addition to his role as pastor of SVC Church, Rev. Arensmeier is chaplain to the Sonoma Valley Fire and Rescue Authority. He is a proud member of several veterans organizations and considers outreach to veterans part of his ministry. Rev. Arensmeier explained that many people often don't realize or forget how important the remembering of veterans is to a community. According to U.S. News and the U.S. Census Bureau, there are over 319 million veterans total. Over 21 million are currently serving in the U.S. armed forces and 10 percent of that population is made up of women.
Lindsay Hall came to the US in the 1950s from Scotland and was required to register for the draft up...
Lindsay Hall came to the US in the 1950s from Scotland and was required to register for the draft upon arrival. "I chose to sign up rather than be drafted to the War in Korea, he said. I joined the US Air Force, " added Hall. "I was proud to serve and has no regrets." His life in military service allowed him to travel all over the world. He is grateful to be able to retire in Sonoma. "It's a beautiful place to have landed in."
Sonoma Mayor Laurie Gallian was present and took time to visit with members of the three veterans organizations present as they set out coffee, syrup at each of the tables.
Boy Scouts Troop 222 helped in the kitchen serving breakfast, while Girl ScoutsTroop 10112 greeted people as they walked in the door. The three Veterans organizations represented at the breakfast and commemoration were the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), the American Legion and the American Veterans (Amvets). They work together in unison to meet the needs of veterans in the Sonoma Valley and surrounding area.
VFW Post 1943 Commander Bryan Aubin and crew was responsible for coordinating the annual breakfast a...
VFW Post 1943 Commander Bryan Aubin and crew was responsible for coordinating the annual breakfast and commemoration ceremony for this year's Veterans Day on Nov. 11.
Besides the memorial hall in Sonoma not far from the main plaza in town, there are six other veterans memorial building facilities in Sonoma County.
Bryan Aubin, who currently serves as Post Commander for the local VFW - Post 1943, took a few moments to chat after helping to set up and get everything in order for the breakfast and ceremony. He told this reporter that the veterans organizations "help them with anything they need." And while the needs of veterans can vary, much of the assistance provided is for the ride program. "It is designed to help get veterans to doctors appointment at Fort Miley in San Francisco and other military medical facilities in the area," said Aubin. The veterans groups are always actively helping veterans and the community. "Our largest fundraiser is the annual car show," he added.
Aubin said that all the work to coordinate the breakfast and then the commemoration ceremony was all done by volunteers. Even with fundraising, most of the outreach by veterans and for veterans is done through volunteers. He sees it as vital and an important way to build and foster community.
He mentioned that having the Scouts participate helps them to understand and appreciate civic duties. "Being a part of a scout troop is a good preparation for leadership and team work," he said.
Like all those in attendance Aubin was very pleased and proud to be there. "I grew up here in Sonoma," he said. "But like any teenager I did not have much direction. Joining the Marines provided me with the direction, discipline and from there I built a career and family," he said. He joined the military just as Desert Storm was deployed to Kuwait in the early 1990s. And, then after training was sent out and served in Somalia. Aubin is a veteran of more than 28 years of military service.
Sonoma resident Kathy Ostram wanted to attend the breakfast to show solidarity for veterans and to remember her husband Steve K. Ostram who died this past year. She talked with Aubin, Rev. Arensmeier and others over coffee and pancakes. "Steve was among the very first units to be sent to Vietnam and that was in 1963," she said. He and Kathy raised two children and have lived in Sonoma since 1980. "Most of his health problems in later years were complications due to affects of exposure to Agent Orange," she said.
Steve K. Ostram was among the many people remembered this past Nov 1  2016 at the Day of the Dead re...
Steve K. Ostram was among the many people remembered this past Nov 1, 2016 at the Day of the Dead remembrance and celebration at the Sonoma Community Center. He died this past April of 2016 after years of declining health due to exposure to 'Agent Orange' while serving in Vietnam.
Named for the bright orange stripe that was placed on the containers, 'Agent Orange' was a blend of tactical herbicides the U.S. military sprayed from 1962 to 1971 during 'Operation Ranch Hand' in the Vietnam War to remove trees and dense tropical foliage that provided enemy cover.
"The veterans organizations here were so good to Steve with the ride program and all that. And, when I needed help with final expenses, they were there to help."
Aubin noted that despite what people might think of the conflict over in the Middle East, "an end date to the Gulf War Era has not been established. The Post-9/11 regiments will continue to grow and so will their needs." The VA projects a Post-9/11 Veteran population of approximately 3.5 million by 2020.
This is why he and others in the veterans organizations see their efforts as important. The ability to protect the nation and to respond in times of crisis is at the heart of a strong and dedicated military. Regardless of what people might think or feel about war, the reality of a world in constant need and upset is a reality. "Having a force that is ready and willing to serve and protect will always be, said Ostram. Of course I want peace," said Kathy. "But the reality is, peace must be maintained and freedom is a responsibility."
She and a few others mentioned that most people who enter military service do so out of duty to country and believe in its principles and ideas. "Basically, a good soldier follows orders," she said. As Kathy sees it, if it is an unjust war or a corrupt action, that has more to do with politicians and the leaders than the ordinary enlisted soldier. Sonoma's veterans groups like the VFW Post 1943 is active all year round. See their page on Facebook.
To learn more about the various military veterans organizations and outreach programs visit the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs web site.
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