Norberto Santana, Jr.

A pioneering leader in the nation’s rising nonprofit news movement and an award-winning journalist. Santana has established Voice of OC as Orange County’s civic news leader, uncovered the truths across Southern California governments for more than two decades and reported on Congress and Latin America.

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Following a hard season of campaigning, Veterans Day holiday weekend offers us all a chance to reset our civic clocks.

And give thanks.

Established after the armistice that ended the first World War, the Veterans Day holiday allows families to confront the costs of freedom.

This weekend, a community coalition including the Orange County Fair and Event Center, Voice of OC and a series of statewide labor unions led by the Orange County Employees Association sponsored an annual event where people can commemorate the holiday on the grounds of the Heroes Hall museum – where a host of historic plaques tell a unique story about Orange County’s best.

These soldiers are memorialized on plaques that until 2016 were featured along the “Walk of Honor” at the county Civic Center in downtown Santa Ana. The area around the Walk of Honor turned into a makeshift homeless encampment and the plaques became seriously damaged.

Voice of OC reported a series on the condition of the plaques, beginning in 2010. By 2015, Orange County’s fair board voted to take the plaques from the Civic Center, renovate them and install them in front of the county’s new veterans museum.

Voice of OC published the text of the plaques as Opeds in part to publicize more about these heroes and their lives in Orange County. We continue to encourage readers to use the comment field under each story to help round out the biographies of these remarkable local residents.

This year, we also published a series of Opeds on plaques that have been recently added to the collection.

The plaques present a gripping narrative of individual efforts to defend our nation.

Two men awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor – Navy Petty Officer Michael A. Monsoor (Iraq) and Marine Lance Corporal Kenneth L. Worley (Vietnam) sacrificed their lives.

In total, there are 32 plaques recognizing sacrifice from World War I through today’s war against terrorism. There are 11 recognized with the Congressional Medal of Honor, six honored with the Distinguished Service Cross, another 13 recognized with a Navy Cross and one with an Air Force Cross.

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