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Our Laguna: Patriots Day committee recognizes honorees

February 14, 2013|By Barbara Diamond
  • From left, Junior Citizens of the Year Brock Csira and Michelle Brown; Patriot of the Year Capt. Dr. Joseph A. Pursch; Grand Marshal Capt. Jason Ehret; Citizens of the Year Bonnie and Arnold Hano; Essayist Hanah Levinstein and Artist/Pageant of the Masters Director Dee Challis Davy.
From left, Junior Citizens of the Year Brock Csira and… (Coastline Pilot )

The Patriots Day Parade Committee wasn't making a political statement when it chose "All Together Now" as the theme of the 2013 parade on March 2.

"We selected the theme well before the national election in November without knowing its outcome," said committee President Edward Hanke at the annual Honorees Brunch on Feb. 3 at Tivoli Terrace. "We respectfully suggest that 2012 be a time we all work side-by-side toward common goals that we aspire to as a united people."

Thurston Middle School student Hannah Levenstein read her winning essay on the theme at the brunch, which can be found in the parade program with its cover art by Laguna Beach High School student Aspen Rocha.

Committee Vice President Charlie Quilter also spoke about the theme.

"The goal is to keep moving forward," said Quilter, perennial master of ceremonies for the brunch. "Our aim is to remind people that love of country takes many forms. Showing respect for one another is a good way to start."

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Laguna is fortunate to have a deep pool of individuals worthy of commendation by the parade committee, Hanke said.

"We are honored to have Capt. Jason Ehret as our Grand Marshal," Quilter said.

Ehret is a SEAL, the acronym for Sea, Air, Land Teams. He is permitted to wear the coveted gold trident SEAL badge among his many other decorations, of which he would rather not speak, said Quilter, himself a decorated U.S. Marine pilot and past Patriot of the Year.

Ehret's decorations include three Bronze Star Medals for valor and nine Navy Commendation Medals, including one for valor. He was deployed to the Persian Gulf, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other locations that are still classified.

Laguna is proud to call Ehret one of its own, Quilter said.

He grew up here, attended the now-closed Aliso Elementary in South Laguna and participated in Patriots Day Parades. While a student at Laguna Beach High School, Ehret captained the water polo team and for 11 summers served as a city lifeguard, eventually as a supervisor.

After graduation in 1983, Ehret went to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, earning a degree in industrial engineering.

An interest in engineering may be a characteristic of overachieving LBHS students. Junior Citizen of the Year Brock David Csira, who has a 4.6 grade point average, plans to study mechanical engineering in college.

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