From left: City Councilmembers Mark Henderson and Art Kaskanian; State Sen. Steven Bradford; essay contest winner Ivette Gonzalez; Gardena Nisei Memorial Post 1961 Commander Steve Moriyama; William Stark Rosecrans Post 3261 Commander James Carradine; Rep. Maxine Waters; Mayor Tasha Cerda; Mayor Pro Tem Rodney Tanaka; Councilmember Paulette Francis. (Photos by J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo)

GARDENA — The City of Gardena held its 52nd annual Veterans Day service on Thursday at the City Hall Complex.

Contributing and participating members of local veterans’ organizations included Mike Laughlin, commander, VFW California District 4; Steve Moriyama, commander, and Stan Shintani, senior vice commander, Gardena Nisei Memorial Post 1961; James Carradine, commander, and Norm Chibana, quarter master, William Stark Rosecrans Post 3261.

Representing the city were Mayor Tasha Cerda, Mayor Pro Tem Rodney Tanaka, Councilmembers Mark Henderson, Art Kaskanian and Paulette Francis, City Clerk Mina Semenza (master of ceremonies), City Treasurer J. Ingrid Tsukiyama, City Manager Clint Osorio, and City Attorney Carmen Vasquez.

Presentation of colors was conducted by Gardena Police Department and Gardena High School JROTC, raising of the POW-MIA flag by Gardena High School JROTC, and Pledge of Allegiance by Girl Scout Troop 5645.

James Chang, pastor of Gardena Valley Baptist Church, gave the invocation and benediction. Wendy Katagi, from the same church, sang the national anthem, “America the Beautiful” and “God Bless America.”

After opening remarks from Cerda, Tanaka introduced the winner of the Veterans Day essay contest, Ivette Gonzalez of Peary Middle School, who read her essay.

Wendy Katagi sang “The Star-Spangled Banner,” “America the Beautiful” and “God Bless America.”

Rep. Maxine Waters of the 43rd Congressional District and State Sen. Steven Bradford of the 35th Senate District thanked the veterans for their service and presented proclamations to the participants.

Henderson introduced the keynote speaker, Anthony Dixon, who joined the Army after a career as a firefighter and served in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Laughlin, Moriyama, Carradine and Cerda presented flowers in front of the memorial to Gardena residents who made the ultimate sacrifice.

The program closed with a 21-rifle tribute by the Redondo Union High School Marine Corps JROTC, followed by “Taps.”

Afterwards, everyone enjoyed refreshments and visited information booths staffed by the American Legion, Los Angeles Veterans Center, Quilt of Valor, and VFW Auxiliary.

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