A ceremony dedicating the walkway around East in honor of two U.S. Marine units that have been "adopted" by the city was held as part of Family Fest in late August.
The path was dedicated to Camp Pendleton-based 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines Division, also known as “The Professionals,” and the “Heavy Haulers,” Heavy Helicopter Squadron 462 from Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, units that were "adopted" by Santee as part of the Americans Supporting Americans program in the wake of September 11. The beginning of the loop is marked with a describing the Marine units and Santee's relationship with them.
Members of the Marine units were in attendance, while another Marine read off names of soldiers lost in combat in the Middle East. The Marine color guard was the first to place their “boots on the ground” on the memorial walkway after the dedication by .
The Mayor offered his take on what September 11 meant to Santee, and why it reacted by adopting the units:
"The Santee Patch wanted to know what 9/11 meant to Santee- it means a lot to many of us. Santee just doesn't talk about patriotism we DO patriotism!
"After 9-11 Congressman office called me up (my good friend Joe Brown), and said 'it looks like a long war on Terror coming up,' and that they are asking all the cities, County, etc., to adopt and support a military unit at a community level. I consulted our City Council (they are the boss) and contacted an organization called Americans Supporting Americans to pick a unit for us so we could not be accused of favoritism.
"They picked Second Battalion First Marine Regiment (2/1) as our unit. That went so well that our City Council did not want to look like we were slouches so we asked for another unit (we assumed that EVERY City would adopt a unit, looked like a patriotic no-brainer at the time). That is how we got Heavy Marine Helicopter Squadron 462 (HMH 462) as well.
"Our City Council was shocked to hear a couple of months later, that Santee was the only City or Government to adopt ANY military unit. It has remained that way for years.
"The relationship with our Marines has been very good and close. Representatives from Santee go to Marine events and the Marines attend our events. As each unit deploys usually at different times, so one of them can usually provide a Color Guard, security etc. for various City events. The City works closely with the Santee Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2347 (VFW Post 2347) to raise money for wounded Marines and support Marine events. Many Businesses and Service Clubs also help in many ways. I sometimes am questioned as to why we didn't adopt a Navy unit and a Marine Unit to balance out, well it was the luck of the draw, I don't question providence.
"Probably the toughest thing about our adopted units in War time is supporting and visiting the wounded. We get to know, like and care for our Marines and when they deploy to Iraq, Afghanistan or into a new "harms way" some don't make it back- 29 so far and just about 200 wounded. 2/1 and HMH 462 obey their orders and pay in blood for our freedom.
"The citizens of Santee are always thinking and often praying for our fighting Marines, the Cities motto for them (in spirit) is; 'Where you go, we go.' The Marines carry a flag that has flow over City Hall whenever they go into combat every chance we have and return it to the flag pole when they come back, some are on the Council Chamber's wall.
"Our Marines are humble heroes, they don't brag, they just do their jobs and are Semper Fidelis (Always Faithful). Santee is proud of our Marines and on this 10th anniversary of 9-11 every citizen should know that we are WORKING patriots that stand tall for the giants that stand tall for us."
Respectfully submitted on the City of Santee's and citizens behalf,
Randy Voepel Mayor,
City of Santee
Vietnam Veteran 1969-1975