Mark Goodman named El Cajon Veteran of the Year

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WEBMark Goodman with CSMR.jpg

This year marks the 100th observance of Veterans Day.

The commemoration was originally called Armistice Day, acknowledging the end of the First World War at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of the year, thought then to be concluding the “war to end all wars.”

In 1954, here in the U.S. during the presidency of World War II commander Dwight Eisenhower, the day was officially renamed Veterans Day, to pay respect to the military service of all veterans of all wars.

This year marks the 100th observance of Veterans Day.

The commemoration was originally called Armistice Day, acknowledging the end of the First World War at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of the year, thought then to be concluding the “war to end all wars.”

In 1954, here in the U.S. during the presidency of World War II commander Dwight Eisenhower, the day was officially renamed Veterans Day, to pay respect to the military service of all veterans of all wars.

The City of El Cajon honored military service for this centennial Veterans Day with an afternoon ceremony outside the Civic Center in downtown on Sunday, Nov. 11. El Cajon Veterans Commissioners presided over portions of the event. Local dignitaries in attendance were Assembly Member Randy Voepel, El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells and Councilmembers Steve Goble and Bob McClellan. The Valhalla High School Band and Choir provided live performances of patriotic music and songs.

The ceremony featured formal recognition of the 2018 El Cajon Veteran of the Year, Mark Goodman, who left military service in the Army in 1985 and has since continued service with the Arizona Army National Guard, U.S. Naval Reserve, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, California State Military Reserve and American Legion El Cajon Post 303.  Goodman is a professor of geology at Grossmont College.

“When I started in military service, I never thought about earning honors like this,” Goodman said. “I thought only about doing what needed to be done. Let’s make this a great Veterans Day.”

El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells took to the podium to deliver brief remarks and thank veterans and their families and friends. He further noted that San Diego County is home to more than 420,000 military veterans, the third highest in the nation.

Wells disclosed that although not a veteran himself, he saw the difficult post-service experiences of his Marine Corps son, Matt Wells, and his son-in-law. Of the 90 Marines who served in Matt’s Marine Recon Unit in Afghanistan, 10 committed suicide in the aftermath.

“This is not only about PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder),” said Wells. “This is about the chance to live the American dream.”

Wells ascribed the troubles for recently separated military veterans from having had significant purpose and responsibility while in the military, but finding that lacking upon reentry into civilian life.

“Reintegration is hard,” Wells said, observing that veterans despite their training find the experience hard to find jobs. His son landed a job as a security guard, nothing like the level of responsibility he held during his Marine Corps service. Wells concluded by challenging all in attendance at the ceremony to urge business owners and those in human resources hiring positions to put particular emphasis on hiring military veterans into jobs.

“Remember those who defended freedom,” Goble said. He spoke of the U.S. flag, with its colors of red for valor, white for purity of intention and blue for justice. “Whatever your part in military service, we are grateful to you, you completed your oath. May God bless each one of you.”

On Tuesday, Nov. 13, at the El Cajon City Council meeting, Goodman was recognized again as El Cajon Veteran of the Year 2018 and presented with the city’s continuing permanent display plaque, which has Goodman’s name inscribed for this year. The award was initiated and first presented in 2016 to Ray Moody, one of Goodman’s fellow members of El Cajon American Legion Post 303.