In a heartwarming Thanksgiving celebration, nearly two hundred Marines stationed at Camp Pendleton, California, were treated to a feast of gratitude at the local H.H. Cotton’s restaurant. As the sun rose on Thanksgiving morning, the echoes of the “Marines’ Hymn” filled the air, creating a memorable atmosphere that left a lasting impression on all in attendance.
The generous hosts of this event were none other than Chris and Maureen Aitken, the couple who own and operate H.H. Cotton’s. They organized the gathering to express their deep appreciation for the sacrifices made by these brave young Marines. Helping them in their noble endeavor were local politicians, Rep. Mike Levin and Orange County Fifth District Supervisor Katrina Foley, who tirelessly served up Thanksgiving delights to the Marines, filling their plates with warmth and gratitude.
The local San Clemente Times reported that the Aitken couple was motivated by the values instilled in them by their parents, who emphasized the importance of philanthropy. They understood the significance of providing comfort to these Marines, many of whom were spending their first Thanksgiving away from home. Chris Aitken shared, “One Marine’s mom just called in right now and FaceTimed us, thanking us. For most of these Marines, it’s their first Thanksgiving away from home, so it’s truly a privilege to be able to do this.”
Maureen Aitken echoed this sentiment, emphasizing that the event also had a unifying effect on the community. She remarked, “San Clemente has been pretty divisive over the last few years, but this is something for which everybody can come together.”
Expressing her gratitude to the community members who supported the event, Maureen added, “Thank you to those of you who donated to help us treat 180 young Marines to an amazing Thanksgiving! Thank you, Capo Ford, Julie Brooks Mains Law Firm, Sea View Pediatrics, and all of you who donated! Thank you, Antoine’s and Jimmy John’s.”
Supervisor Foley, addressing the Marines, extended a warm welcome: “I hope that everybody—wherever you’re from—I hope you know that this is another place that you can always call home. The greater community here in South Orange County and North San Diego County, we love our Marines. We’re so thankful for you.”
The San Clemente Chamber of Commerce also shared their support on Facebook, highlighting that H.H. Cotton’s had been hosting this event for six years running, bringing together approximately 200 Marines for a memorable Thanksgiving meal.
H.H. Cotton’s, known for its rich history, reflects the spirit of its founders, Ole Hanson and Henry Hamilton Cotton. Hamilton, often overshadowed by Ole, played a pivotal role in making Ole’s dream of San Clemente a reality. The historic H.H. Cotton estate, affectionately known as President Nixon’s “Western White House,” stands as a testament to Hamilton’s legacy as a gracious host.
The restaurant’s website states, “Much like the founders did so many years ago, four local San Clemente families have come together to see a vision through. Our vision is to provide other local families with a lively, fun place to gather and enjoy delicious food and drink in the company of friends and neighbors.”
As the Thanksgiving feast at H.H. Cotton’s brought Marines and the community together, it demonstrated the power of unity and kindness during a season meant for gratitude and togetherness. The tradition continues, reminding us all of the importance of giving back and honoring those who serve our country.