November 11th will undoubtably be a day that I will remember. Not only was it Veterans Day, but I was an eyewitness to an impressive celebration of our Heroes who put their lives on the line for our country.
The Walt Disney Company (TWDC) and the Disney SALUTE! Business Employee Resource Group stepped up to honor our Veterans with its annual Disney SALUTE! event held at the Walt Disney Studio Lot. Fanfare, decorations and tradition surrounded the event as several notable figures took their place up on stage in Disney’s Main Theater.
As you may expect, Partners was there to lend a helping hand, providing hats, support and cheer to the esteemed audience attending the celebration. I was proud and delighted to have been a part of this event. While I spent a good amount of time with event preparations, I found myself able to take a few moments to catch the very beginning of the program. And luckily so, because I was able to see The U.S. Color Guard set up a presentation of our Nation’s flag. Though, I’ve seen many televised flag presentations, I can say that I’ve never seen something like this in person and I found it more engaging than I expected. Following the flag presentation, The Young Marines kicked off the main celebration with The Pledge of Allegiance in an impressive show of unity. The program was MC’ed by Sage Steele, co-host of ESPN’s SportsCenter on ESPN and self-described military brat whose father was a West Point Graduate and grandfather was a Buffalo Solider. The show opened with the National Anthem performed by Los Angeles premier vintage singing trio, The Beverly Belles. The ladies rocked the crowd with a rousing and satisfyingly patriotic rendition of the time honored classic.
TWDC CEO Bob Iger delivered an inspirational speech that defined the program. Iger was followed by Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, Bob Chapek and ESPN President James Pitaro, both of whom delivered speeches and thanks to our veterans.
Among the respected figures taking the stage was Colonel Jennifer Short, a Senior Air Force pilot who has logged more than 1,800 hours of flight time and had flown more than 430 combat missions during her career. Colonel Short revealed that she hailed from a military family and that her interest in the military started at an early age. As the Colonel reviewed her venerable career for an enthusiastic audience, various audience members asked questions, to which the Colonel gratefully answered. Colonel Short’s brief Q&A was followed by a stunning performance by The Cantinas Arts Dancers, a Los Angeles based Community Arts Troupe.
Being the designated escort to the Cantinas Art Dancers, I was able to get to know the group a bit. I found their dedication to their craft, enthusiasm, admiration for our troops, and genuinely good nature to be humbling.
Later, the audience moved from the auditorium to a colorfully setup Expo area held at the Studio lot. Both veterans and audience members were treated to a variety of fun and thoughtful displays. This included a Color Guard flag raising ceremony, performances by Hollywood Records recording artist Alt Bloom and The Cantinas Arts Dancers and a cool Guitar raffle sponsored by the Disney Music Group. Additionally, on display were eye-catching Captain America and Captain Marvel costumes provided by Marvel Studios. Being a Marvel fan myself, I really enjoyed the efforts Marvel made to honor our Heroes in their own, inimitable way.
As it has been in previous years, the Disney SALUTE! Event was a prodigious celebration enjoyed and attended by a host of Cast Members seeking to give thanks and pay tribute. Undoubtably a great time was held by all. I personally enjoyed the event and found myself reflecting on the importance of this day. And I learned many fun things including the proper way to salute an officer!
Veterans Day (originally known as Armistice Day) is a federal holiday in the United States observed annually on November 11, for honoring people who have previously served in the United States Armed Forces. It coincides with other holidays including Armistice Day and Remembrance Day which are celebrated in other countries that mark the anniversary of the end of World War I.