By Cher Antido
The city of Monterey Park celebrated Armed Forces Day at Barnes Memorial Park on Saturday.
Along with East Los Angeles College Veterans Resource Center, the community commemorated those who served the United States Armed Forces.
ELAC’s Veterans counselor Jessica Peak opened the event with the pledge allegiance to the flag.
The park was filled with families and their children, as well as veterans of the Armed Forces and those currently serving.
Among those who spoke at the podium were ELAC alumn Michael Garcia and singer Elliott McKenzie.
McKenzie is a former U.S. Marine and combat Veteran who turned to a R&B singer and songwriter.
He uses his music as a form of therapy for his post traumatic disorder.
He calls it his “live therapy session.”
McKenzie sang the national anthem at the event.
The event consisted of various activities for kids.
They had carnival games, an obstacle course, face painting and a display of military equipment to try on.
The ELAC Veterans Resource Center displayed various military equipment that came from the American Military Museum in South El Monte.
Among them were entrenching tools, helmets used during World War II, load bearing vests and body armors.
VRC staff Vanessa Alverson helped children try on the vests and armors so they could pose for a photo.
She explained to them the purpose of each equipment as well.
The VRC is located in D7A. It’s a place where veterans can get information, tutoring and counseling appointments.
It’s also a place where they can hang out.
“There’s a VSO (Veteran Service Officers) who comes and helps with VA (Veterans Affairs) claims,” Alverson said.
“It’s like a one-stop shop for all veterans to come, but anybody can come in.”
The Monterey Park Fire Department also set up booths at the park.
There were firetrucks lined up on the streets to serve as a photo spot for people.
Families lined up and children rode inside the trucks for photos.
There were also recruiting and information booths for those interested in enlisting.
U.S. Army Recruiter Joerolf Valdez provided information for people and explain the benefits of joining.
He said some benefits were paid college tuition and traveling to different countries.
“You get to choose one place to be stationed in,” Valdez said.
He sets up a recruiting booth at the ELAC quad once a week.
Even families that didn’t have a veteran brought their children to play and have fun.
They were able to showcase their push-up abilities to one of the U.S. Army officers, as well as their aiming at the obstacle course.
U.S. Air Force officers also gave information about their training and what it’s like to be in the military.