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By Jesse B. Kendrick

Photo: El Cajon Councilmember Bob McClellan and granddaughter Jessica (left) join Mayor Pro Tem Gary Kendrick (center) to honor Pearl Harbor survivor Stu Hedley, 96 (right).

July 3, 2018 (El Cajon) – Nearly 10,000 community members gathered this weekend for Celebrate America, the annual Independence Day event hosted by Shadow Mountain Community Church. The event featured indoor fireworks and a surprise appearance from military personnel who rappelled down ropes from the ceiling.

Following impressive performances of iconic American songs, veterans were asked to come forward to receive recognition for their service. El Cajon Mayor Pro Tem Gary Kendrick was among the local dignitaries awarding medals to past and present service members.

“It was a truly humbling experience to celebrate those who have sacrificed so much for our freedom,” said Kendrick. “Through tears, one man told me that no one had ever thanked him for his service.  I am honored for the privilege to be among the thousands   showing our gratitude this weekend.”

Among those honored was San Diego resident and Pearl Harbor survivor Stu Hedley. Now 96, Hedley joined the United States Navy when he was 18. He recounted a gripping tale of his close encounters with enemy firepower during the fateful 1941 attack.

“I saw the [U.S.S.] Arizona explode through my periscope!” he recalled. After serving in the Pacific Theater of the Second World War, Hedley continued his military career in the Korean Conflict. “I spent 20 years and 9 days in the Navy. I never got a scratch, never got a burn, never got a bruise. I went through some harrowing experiences. The Lord Jesus Christ protected me.”

Despite his long career of service, Stu Hedley remains both optimistic and humble. “I am not a hero. The heroes are those who gave the ultimate price to give me the freedom to sit at my desk right now.”

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Private event at the church?

Yeah, sadly I wasn't able to attend this year's America On Main Street because of the new, much later time start. And I don't attend the 4th of July fireworks because of the crowds. I did not know the event at the church was private. Thanks for the clarification.

The event is open to all

The event is open to all members of the public, actually! I hope to see you there next year. They have a 25 piece orchestra and 200 choir members.

The city had their America on

The city had their America on Main Street event a month ago downtown. They also have fireworks tonight at Kennedy Park. Public figures were invited to this event but it was privately hosted by the church.

Hi Eric! The event is

Hi Eric! The event is actually open to all members of the public. I hope to see you there next year! They have a 25 piece orchestra and 200 choir members, who put on quite the show.

A great event to have, but...

Why wasn't it held in downtown El Cajon where the general public could attend? I for one, had no idea this was happening. Would have been nice to go, as an honor to my dad who fought bravely in WW11