The scent of smoke was heavy in the air as the Camarillo church observed the 100th anniversary of Veterans Day on Sabbath, Nov. 10. The twin tragedies of the Thousand Oaks shooting on Nov. 7, followed within hours by fires that ravaged Ventura and Los Angeles counties were on the speakers’ minds and in the hearts of the veterans, their families, and church members who gathered to honor 30 veterans in attendance for the milestone anniversary.
In his invocation, David Wilson, the senior pastor of the local Assembly of God church and a United States Army veteran, said, “Lord Jesus, we pray not only Your blessing on our time as we give honor to those whom honor is due, but that we remember those who have sacrificed—not just those in our military services, but those in law enforcement and our firefighters on the line this very moment.”
Congresswoman Julia Brownley presented the keynote address. “As a community, while we are grieving today, it is also imperative that we join together to pay tribute to the brave men and women who have served our nation in uniform with honor and distinction,” she said. In her address, she recognized the true cost of freedom. “They missed birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, first days of school, so that others could celebrate those same treasured moments,” she said.
Pastor Lonnie Melashenko, former speaker of Voice of Prophecy, spoke in his homily of the importance of remembering. “Veterans Day is a day when we pause to remember to remember,” he said. “We pause to remember that we are free to pray; we’re free to worship; we’re free to speak; we’re free to assemble; and we’re free to vote, because of the sacrifices of these men and women who are truly heroes.”
Kelvin Loh, physician and Camarillo church member, started planning the celebration nearly one year ago. A Vietnam veteran who served as a major in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, Loh has a special burden on his heart for all Vietnam veterans. “To have an opportunity to honor all our veterans is a privilege that I cannot forgo,” Loh said. “It helps us to recognize the sacrifice they made and to restore the dignity of veterans.”
From World War II and Vietnam veterans to men and women in active service, all were remembered and honored.
Melashenko closed with prayer: “Lord, we also stop here and remember Calvary—what You did for us, the suffering You endured on the Cross for us. May we keep our eyes focused on You, so that when that Day comes, we will be found faithful, as we remember to remember.”