Published November 1st, 2017
Veterans Day to be celebrated inclusively, and mindfully, in Lamorinda
By Sophie Braccini
Sharing at a former Mindful Littles event. Photo provided
The town of Moraga will hold its traditional Veterans Day ceremony Nov. 11 with the inclusion this year of Girl Scout members along with Boy Scout troops and music at this adult ceremony, which also welcomes children. In Orinda on Nov. 10, the Lamorinda group Mindful Littles has invited veterans from Veteran's PATH, a local nonprofit, to join children during an event of compassion and sharing.
Moraga Mayor Teresa Onoda remembers how moving last year's Veterans Day celebration in Moraga was, but she said that as she left, she felt something was missing; she realized it was girls' involvement.
Onoda met with retired U.S. Navy Capt. John Haffner who has been instrumental in getting the veteran's memorial stone installed in the Moraga Commons. Haffner was enthused and two months ago everyone met, including the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. Onoda said it was easy to have all the Scouts work together with the organizers.
Karl Davis, a retired U.S. Army Special Operations Command engineer officer, assisted Haffner in organizing the Moraga event and said the Girl Scouts were eager to participate, and didn't ask to change anything. Cadette, Senior and Ambassador Girl Scouts from Orinda Moraga Service Unit #327 will be at the event, according to Mary Friese; Wendell Baker indicated that Moraga Boy Scout Troops 212, 234, 246, and 249 will attend. Davis said there will be a pass and review of the Scouts by officials - something new for the Girl and Boy Scouts - that will be performed without rehearsal.
Music will also be part of the event: Bagpiper Steven McElhaney will play the uplifting tune, "Highland Cathedral," and two buglers will perform "Taps," a beautiful, sobering piece often performed to honor veterans. The ceremony with state and city officials will be held at the Moraga Commons Park from 9 to 10 a.m., followed by a social gathering until 11 a.m.
On Friday, Nov. 10, Tanuka Gordon and the leaders of Mindful Littles will facilitate an event from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at the Orinda Community Church for young children to help them understand why we celebrate Veterans Day. The leaders decided to take advantage of the Friday being a school holiday and suggested following the same principle as other activities proposed by the group: providing hands-on ways to be present, and reflect on a topic adequate for young children.
Gordon did some research and found the group Veteran's PATH, a nonprofit designed to support veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder, which through practical tools of meditation and mindfulness, physical and outdoor experiences, and a community of camaraderie, helps veterans "rediscover peace, acceptance, transformation and honor in a new journey forward of strength and service" - something that immediately resonated with the Orinda resident.
Gordon contacted the group, which was enthusiastic about creating a sharing time with children. Participants will make objects for the veterans, such as worry stones or soothing bracelets. A couple of veteran alumni from the program will come to interact with the children. Gordon explains that the event will be an expression of compassion and will lead to more meaning. She expects that by the end of the morning, the children will have learned more about veterans and will have an opportunity to express their gratitude.
The cost for the event is $40 per family to cover expenses. To register, visit

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