Members of the Marine Corps League’s Old Breed Detachment No 767

Members of the Marine Corps League’s Old Breed Detachment No 767 carry the American, Arizona and POW/MIA flags to be raised during the city’s Veterans Day Ceremony at the Glendale Veterans Memorial.

Residents packed the auditorium of Glendale’s Main Library early Nov. 11 to celebrate the city’s 17th-annual Veteran’s Day Ceremony. Presented by the Glendale Chamber of Commerce Military and Veterans Affairs Committee, Mayor Jerry Weiers and the city of Glendale, the event drew standing room only and featured speakers from three service branches, flag raisings and retirements, and a missing-man flyover.

Military and Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Turney introduced Mayor Weiers and keynote speakers Chief Master Sergeant Ronald Thompson, 56th Fighter Wing Command Chief, Luke Air Force Base as well as U.S. Navy Commander Mark Moran and retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel David Clukey. Rep. Debbie Lesko was also in attendance and addressed District 8 constituents. 

“Today we shine the spotlight on family and our servicemembers,” Weiers said. “This ceremony allows the community to come together and honor those who have served our country.”

“We stand before you on the shoulders of giants,” said Thompson. “Eighty percent of our servicemen and women come from the families of veterans,” Thompson estimated.

 “Family has the toughest job of all,” said Clukey. “Each of us has heard the call of duty and answered it,” Clukey said. “Today we honor every man and woman who ever wore the uniform,” added Moran. “We must remain committed to honoring service,” urged Moran.

Following the keynote addresses, the ceremony continued outside the auditorium to the Glendale Veterans Memorial with a special flag-raising ceremony by the Marine Corps League’s Old Breed Detachment No. 767. A POW/MIA and Arizona state flag were raised beside and below the American flag in the center of the city’s bronze memorial.

While the flag-raising feature is the focus of the annual event, this year the chamber unveiled its mobile U.S. flag retirement incinerator specifically designed to properly lay the American flag to rest. Civil Air Patrol Cadets readied and folded tattered flags and placed them atop of the preloaded incinerator. Mayor Weiers and Wayne Cole lit the air infused unit using flares and within minutes it reached more than 700 degrees.

Cole is an active member of the chamber and its Military & Veterans Affairs Committee. He also designed, built and donated the incinerator to the chamber. The project took nearly two years to complete and will be used routinely to properly dispose of flags gathered from throughout the city.

As smoke began to rise from the incinerator’s chimney, a small group of aircraft was spotted in the distance.  With a smoke-on, low-level flyover, vintage aircraft from the Falcon Warbirds Foundation concluded the celebration departing in the distance in the missing man formation. 

“Veterans Day is an opportunity to realize how vital our freedom is to us and to thank all of the dedicated people who sacrificed so much for us to enjoy living in a free country,” stated Dr. Lily Matos DeBlieux, Glendale Chamber of Commerce Chair. “The Glendale Chamber gives honor to those who served and help us realize how important it is for us to commemorate this holiday each year.” 

For more information about the Glendale Chamber of Commerce or its Military and Veterans Affairs Committee, call Aubrie Herman, Program & Events Manager, 623-937-4754 or email aherman@glendaleazchamber.org.