In conjunction with Armed Forces Day and National Military Appreciation Month, on Friday, May 15, Senator Mike Morrell (R-Rancho Cucamonga) hosted the second annual Patriots of the Past, Present and Future Recognition Ceremony at Cable Airport in Upland.
“Patriots of the Past, Present, and Future is about reflecting on the service of the men and women of the Armed Forces and how we as a community can support them,” said Morrell. “We need to remember, honor, and recognize their continued patriotism and promote these virtues in the hearts and minds of younger generations. It was a privilege to be in the company of so many who put everything on the line for freedom and liberty.”
Navy veteran Herbert “Bill” Harrison was selected by last year’s awardees as Patriot of the Year. Bill served during World War II, surviving six days at sea after his minesweeping ship, the USS YMS-472, was sunk off the north shore of Okinawa near Japan. After his time in the military, Bill dedicated his life to serving others and formed a construction company that built over 50 churches up and down the West Coast. For his work, Bill was nominated as a Patriot of the Past in the Business category. At 93 years old, he continues to travel around the country sharing his story of survival and faith, which is soon to be made into a feature film. More information can be found at 6daysonaraft.net.
Over 300 members of the community attended the event, honoring veterans, active duty service men and women, reservists, members of the National Guard, and businesses and organizations that have supported them. It was also an opportunity to discuss public policy issues affecting veterans, including Senate Bill 418, which would help active duty California State University students finish their college degrees, and Senate Bill 2, which would clarify property tax exemptions for Veterans Halls.
The evening included live musical performances by the Swing Dames and the Inland Sound Choir, which presented a medley of military anthems. Chaffey High School Navy Junior ROTC served as the color guard.
“Patriots” were recognized in four categories - Business, Education, Public Safety and Community Service. All nominated finalists received a medal and certificate. “Patriots” are defined as:
- Patriot of the Past: A veteran of a conflict such as World War II, the Korean War, or the Vietnam War.
- Patriot of the Present: A currently enlisted service member, a reservist, a veteran of a recent conflict such as the Gulf War or Operation Iraqi Freedom, or a business or organization that currently serves veterans in some capacity.
- Patriot of the Future: An individual under 21 years of age who either actively serves the military or veterans or plans on enlisting.
Nominations were submitted from all over the 23rd Senate District, which includes portions of San Bernardino and Riverside counties. Last year’s award winners were asked to review the applications and select this year’s honorees, which were announced at the event. A list of finalists and winners can be found here (pdf).
Photo for publication: Senator Mike Morrell, R-Rancho Cucamonga, presents Hemet resident and World War II Navy veteran Herbert “Bill” Harrison with the award recognizing him as “Patriot of the Year.”