By: Dave Schwab
Mount Soledad Memorial Association's annual Veterans Day ceremony will be bigger and better this year.
The annual event will be held this Saturday in advance of the traditional Nov. 11 holiday - and earlier than usual, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Every year the association outdoes itself in finding special ways to honor veterans, and this year is no exception. A special plaque presentation honoring Brig. Gen. James Maitland "Jimmy" Stewart, will be held with members of the late Hollywood actor's family present.
The Stewart commemoration will be presented by event emcee Ed Ward, first vice president of the association. Maj. Gen. Robert E. Duignan, commanding officer of March Air Reserve Base, will give the keynote address detailing the significance of Stewart's contributions during World War II.
Other activities will include music by the Navy Band Southwest and an aerial extravaganza courtesy of The Scadrille Fly-By Formation Team performing the Diamond and Missing Man Formations.
Veterans Day at Mt. Soledad is special for reasons above and beyond the military holiday, said Bill Kellogg, memorial association president.
"The special events we produce annually help to bring the memorial on Mt. Soledad to life," he said. "It's not a dead monument. It's a living tribute to veterans."
Bob Phillips, honorary association trustee, pointed out key political and entertainment figures like presidents Reagan and Ford and comedian Bob Hope, as well as seven Medal of Honor recipients, have been honored during past Veterans Day celebrations.
Thank a vet
"Our mission is to honor veterans," added Phillips, "and our tag line is, 'If you love freedom, thank a veteran and the active military."
Mt. Soledad ceremonies typically draw upwards of 1,000 guests along with city and state officials and representatives from 75 veterans organizations in San Diego County.
Veterans Day is an annual American holiday held on Nov. 11, the anniversary of the signing of the armistice with Germany ending World War I at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.
For more information about Mt. Soledad's 2008 Veterans Day ceremony, visit