California’s labor unions stood with veterans this November to commemorate Veterans Day 2014 with service projects and a free community celebration attended by 9,000 people in Orange County. Attendance nearly tripled this year as Southern California residents came to the OC Fair & Event Center to honor our nation’s heroes and enjoy free food, music and activities for the family.
The United States Postal Service held a ceremony to commemorate the release of the Korean War Medal of Honor stamps which honor the 145 Korean War Medal of Honor recipients who were among the 6.8 million who served in Korea from 1950 to 1953. Korean War Medal of Honor recipient Corporal Tibor Rubin, an Army veteran residing in Garden Grove, was honored, along with nearly 50 other Korean War veterans including several Buffalo Soldiers.
Attendees also made thank you cards for veterans, purchased care packages for active servicemen and women and brought in food and supply donations by the truckload.
Led by the Orange County Employees Association and California Labor Federation, more than 9,000 lbs. in donations for veterans in need were collected during at the community celebration. Dubbed “Thanks a ton,” the food drive aimed to collect one ton (or 2,000 pounds) of donations for veterans in need. Thousands helped to more than quadruple that goal, raising the haul to 8,957 lbs. of food and supplies.
Donations—including canned and instant foods, toiletries, and more—will benefit Veterans First, a Santa Ana organization that feeds 175 homeless veterans daily, and the Orange County Food Bank.
“The sacrifices our veterans and their families make for our freedom are staggering, and so is the generosity demonstrated by so many this Veterans Day,” said Jennifer Muir, OCEA’s Assistant General Manager. “Standing together, we accomplished something so much greater than ourselves. No veteran should ever have to worry about basic needs.”
Union members also cleaned the USS Iowa and hosted service projects across the state as part of Veterans Day activities. Armed with buckets of Simple Green and scores of rags, union members volunteered Saturday, Nov. 8, to be the USS Iowa crew for a day.
More than 40 members of Southern California’s labor unions—including United Food and Commercial Workers, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, OCEA and several others—came to scrub down bunks and clean walls in the 72-year-old battleship.
“(Veterans) are the heroes of our country, so the least we can do is come out here to say ‘thank you for serving’ and clean up a ship that was in battle,” added Gilbert Davila, Organizing Director for UFCW Local 324 in Buena Park. “It’s an overwhelming experience.”
On Saturday, Nov. 15, Los Angeles county union members will stand with veterans to form Team Homeless Heroes to raise awareness for homelessness during the United Way’s annual 5K Home Walk.
All projects are part of the “Veterans + Labor – Partners in Service” initiative launched in 2013.
Sponsored by California unions, “Veterans + Labor” aims to support and raise up veterans on three fronts: providing volunteer service, opening doors to good jobs and a special Veterans Day event to honor our heroes for their service. Far too often, our nation’s veterans don’t receive the support they’ve earned or the services they need when returning home. California’s labor unions are taking the lead to change that.
Read more about the event in the local media: