It was a peaceful, even tranquil, scene far removed from wartime violence and suffering, as a single line of Girl Scouts carefully affixed ornaments bearing the names of La Cañada Flintridge veterans to a tree to commemorate the passage of 100 years since the end of World War I.
Nearly 90 people gave their full attention to the Armistice Day/Veterans Day ceremony at the Lanterman House on Sunday afternoon, including Jane Dutfield, who said her grandfather was a veteran of World War I and her father was a veteran of World War II.
“That was really good to remember the dead for the country,” said Dutfield, who was pleased to have arrived just in time for the ornament ceremony.
World War I ended on Nov. 11, 1918, with a victory for the Allied Powers — including the U.S., France and British Empire — over the Central Powers that included Germany and Austria-Hungary. Armistice Day marks that day’s signing, by the Allies and Germany, of an agreement to stop fighting.
Girl Scout Ashley Dietrich, a 7th-grader at La Cañada High School was joined by Boy Scouts Steven and David Miketta in announcing to the crowd the names were of local soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who lost their lives in America’s wars.
“Their names are enshrined on the gazebo wall in Memorial Park,” Dietrich said, adding that a Girl Scout troop “will place an ornament on the Christmas tree in memory of each.”
Laura Verlaque, Lanterman House executive director, said about 95 people attended the event, which was created to reach out to the local community with ties to local history. There was initial discussion about celebrating the homecoming of Lloyd Lanterman after his service in World War I, but Lanterman officials instead decided to honor all veterans.
Lloyd Lanterman was one of two sons of Roy and Emily, who occupied the residence when it was designed in 1915 by Arthur Haley.
Verlaque said the tree will eventually go into the ballroom of the Lanterman House. She said audiences could see it installed during a free open house on Dec. 16.
Program organizer Joe Puglia, who served with the Marines in the Vietnam War, described to the crowd how he felt his experiences were similar to those who fought in World War I.
World War I was known for its trench warfare, and the trenches were known for being cold and sometimes filled with at least a foot of water because of rain.
“You can imagine the death and the misery,” Puglia said. “They didn’t have helicopters to evacuate the wounded or the killed. It was a very dismal place.”
He said conditions in World War I were similar to Vietnam during the monsoon season.
“If there’s one thing an infantryman learns is you can’t beat water,” Puglia said. World War I also marked the beginning of a tactic called fire and maneuver that was used in a number of battles, including in Vietnam, he said.
“Fire and maneuver would be small units of soldiers go out and they attack a position, and four will advance while the rest of them provide fire suppression,” Puglia said. “Then they would keep advancing and advancing until they hopefully take their objective.”
Audience members afterward said they enjoyed the program.
“It’s great they commemorate Veterans Day and recognize the sacrifice that some soldiers made for the freedom of our country,” said Robert Marinovich. His daughter Carolina, a Girl Scout, took part in the event while he and his son Mateo watched from the crowd.
Trumpet player David Stassel, who performed during the ceremony, said he was not a veteran.
“No, I had a back problem … it’s called a yellow streak,” Stassel said with a laugh. He said Puglia “has to be commended for putting the effort forward so another generation can understand the tremendous sacrifices so many people made and under such horrendous conditions.”
For Dietrich, the day was an important one for learning.
“I feel like my generation really doesn’t know” about World War I and the significance of Armistice Day, she said of youths who are 12 and 13 years old. “It’s like when I first heard about it I was like, ‘Huh, what is that?’ I just feel like we’re going to learn about it later.”
Jessica Stephen, who helped organize the event, said she enjoyed Puglia’s speech.
“It was an awesome and special way to commemorate it,” said Stephen, who grew up in LCF. “Hearing Joe talk about World War I and his experience was really special.”