By Raiza Giorgi
Many Santa Ynez Valley residents showed up to honor local veterans and celebrate their sacrifices on a sunny Veterans Day in Solvang.
The ceremony was completely outside and started with the raising of the flags by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7139 and was followed by a speech from local military dignitary Chris Nielsen.
“Today our entire nation pauses to give thanks and reflect,” Nielsen said.
He then spoke fondly of Erling Grumptrup, his friend and fellow Marine Corps veteran who recently passed away at the age of 100.
“He was not large in stature but he had a booming singing voice and laugh,” Neilsen said. “He served our country in the battle of Iwo Jima and was injured by a grenade. He recovered like so many who have returned home to being regular people and raising a family. What we as Americans cherish, the life we have in the United States.”
Grumstrup was one of the last few veterans from that era that witnessed the iconic raising of the American flag in Iwo Jima. There is now a statue in Washington, D.C., of that moment immortalized by the iconic 1945 photograph of six Marines raising a U.S. flag atop Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II taken by Associated Press combat photographer Joe Rosenthal. Grumstrup traveled there with Honor Flight Central Coast in October 2019 to see the World War II memorial.
“He witnessed horrific loss of life and trauma, but he was quick to enjoy the comaraderie of our fellow veterans and he was so special,” Nielsen concluded.
“We have freedom of speech because of veterans, we have freedom of the press because of veterans, we have the freedom to assemble because of veterans,” read Ron Herbig during the ceremony.
Ed Jorgensen, U.S. Navy veteran and Solvang resident, recounted his experience during Guadalcanal, the first major land offensive by Allied forces against the Empire of Japan. Jorgensen said he was honorably discharged early from his service after contracting malaria while serving.
After the ceremony at the Vets Hall there was a parade through Solvang of military vehicles.