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Hundreds of people that included veterans and active duty military joined by family and friends, gathered at the Solvang Veterans Memorial Hall on Monday for the annual Veterans Day program hosted by Santa Ynez Valley VFW Post 7139

Starting the afternoon program was a flag raising ceremony facilitated by Solvang American Legion Post 160 Color Guard, which drew a large crowd to the flag pole to honor the colors. 

"It really went well," said VFW Post 7139 Commander Alvin Salge. "It was another resounding success."

New to the program was Santa Ynez Valley High School's choir directed by Gregory Magie, joining the Santa Ynez Valley Master Chorale in a rendition of "God Bless America" and the "Star Spangled Banner."

"It was heart-rending," Salge said, remarking on the group's ability to evoke emotions. 

Boy Scout troops presented service flags honoring each branch of the United States military. Rudie Henderson, a former VFW Post commander and current junior vice commander, and USAF Korean War Veteran, brought out the POW/MIA flag.

Returning to the annual program was the Santa Ynez Valley High School band led by director Les Rose, who engaged a captivated audience with more patriotic music.

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According to Salge, Vandenberg Air Force Base Col. Pete Flores, 14th Air Force Operations Commander "gave an outstanding speech" and Retired USMC 1st Sgt. Rick Vandecar talked about his days as a Marine Corps drill instructor which resonated with many in the crowd.

Steve Kester, a USMC Vietnam war veteran, recounted his duty days as a 17-year-old Marine in 1969 during the Vietnam war.

"It was at some points very difficult for him to share," Salge said.

Veterans Day started as Armistice Day on Nov. 11, 1918, at the end of WWI.

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Lisa André covers Valley Life for Santa Ynez Valley News. 

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