Sun and warm weather provided ideal conditions for residents on Veterans Day as they honored former and active-duty military service members across the Central Coast.
Events from Atascadero to Santa Barbara were held Thursday, including the 21st annual Veterans Day barbecue organized by Santa Maria attorney Michael Clayton at Elks Lodge No. 1538 on North Bradley Road.
During a ceremony Thursday morning at the Santa Maria Cemetery, Mike Stadnick Jr. led an honor guard ceremony with several members of the community in attendance. Stadnick spent more than four decades in the military and retired as a captain in the Air Force.
The time that Orcutt resident David Oliver spent in the Navy was cut short in 2013, a year after an attack on his unit by an Afghanistan police officer.
Several more services were held, including one that took place at the Faces of Freedom memorial in Atascadero, which was formally dedicated in November 2008.
In San Luis Obispo, Central Coast Veterans Museum and American Legion Post 66 hosted a community celebration that included a barbecue, guided tours, free admission, an on-site blood drive and "Women in the Military: Local Heroes," a featured special display.
In Lompoc, Elks Lodge No. 2274 hosted a Veterans Day pulled pork barbecue, and services were held at the Rotary Club and the Veterans Memorial Building.
Several keynote speakers from Vandenberg Space Force Base gave speeches at ceremonies throughout the day. They included Col. David Rickards, director of staff for the 30th Space Wing at the Lompoc Veterans Memorial; Col. Jessica Spitler, commander of the 30th Medical Group, who spoke at the Santa Maria Cemetery; and Col. Chris Sheffield, Space Launch Delta 30 vice commander, who spoke in Guadalupe.
Additionally, Col. Robert Long, commander of Space Launch Delta 30, gave a speech honoring service members at the Solvang Veterans Memorial Hall.
In Santa Maria, Clayton's Veterans Day barbecue kicked off with a Santa Maria Police Department color guard led by Officer Rafael Torres, who is also a Marine Corps veteran.
The barbecue was a drive-through event, instead of being held in person due to coronavirus protocols, according to Clayton. It was the second year held at the Elks Lodge because coronavirus rules prevented him from holding it at the Santa Maria Veterans Memorial Building, where the barbecue had been held for 11 years, he added.