‘Let Us Remember Them Always’

takeoutthumb

They came in shorts, T-shirts and sandals. They came in dress whites. They came in denim and heavily decorated leather vests. The high school band came in its black tie best. They came with their children in strollers, and they came with their grandparents pushing walkers. More than a few came alone.

They took a break from barbecues, waterskiing, campaigning for office and preparations for graduation. They came to one of the many Memorial Day services across the country to honor the memory of military veterans who are no longer with us, at least not physically.

About 400 of them came to Redding Memorial Park on Monday. Those people came to a service that … how to put this gently … lacked military precision. The F-15 from the Oregon 173rd Fighter Wing missed by a mile or two, offering those of us at the cemetery only its low-flying roar. Participants in the Navy two-bell ceremony were not quite sure when to ring those bells. Several solemn moments, including the playing of “Taps,” were interrupted for people in the back when someone started a car or a golf cart, or rode into the cemetery on a motorcycle.

But none of that stuff could outweigh the reason we were gathered at a graveyard on a gorgeous day off work, rather than fishing at the lake. The three Pearl Harbor survivors who struggled a bit with the two-bell ceremony received a spontaneous and heartfelt standing ovation. Their real service came more than 60 years ago, when they helped save the United States and the rest of the civilized world from fascism and hatred. It was fitting to honor them in person while we still can.

Retired Army Master Sgt. Irene Castro reminded us that not all deceased veterans were men, that we must remember the World War II WACS and other women who did their part to preserve our freedoms.

“We must ensure the younger generation understands these freedoms are not free,” Castro said. “We must teach our children and our grandchildren to honor our heroes. We need them to not only hear “Taps,” but to feel “Taps.”

memorial-day-1
Retired Major Kurt Walling offers the keynote address while Deanna Hanson provides interpretation for the hearing impaired.

Retired Army Major Kurt Walling, who now heads the ROTC program at Simpson University in Redding, recalled when a land mine claimed a member of his platoon in 1991. A similar incident could happen to a member of the armed services any time, in any one of many locations. Walling urged us to remember that there are U.S. soldiers all over the world who “could die during this speech.”

“The patriots in this hallowed place,” Walling concluded, “have ensured our freedom. Let us remember them always.”

shigley-mugshotPaul Shigley is senior editor of California Planning & Development Report, a frequent contributor to Planning magazine and co-author of Guide to California Planning, a reference book and college text. He lives in Centerville. Paul Shigley may be reached at pauls.anewscafe@gmail.com.

Avatar
has been a professional journalist since 1987. For 12 years, he served as editor or senior editor of California Planning & Development Report, a statewide trade publication for land use planners, real estate development professionals and attorneys. Prior to that, he worked as a reporter or editor at newspapers in Redding, Grass Valley, Napa and Calistoga. Shigley's work also has appeared in the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Planning magazine, Governing magazine, California Law Week, National Speed Sport News and elsewhere. In addition, he is co-author of Guide to California Planning, a college text and reference book, and is currently working on a book for the American Planning Association about the Bay Delta and California water resources. A graduate of California State University, Sacramento, Shigley has contributed to A News Cafe since 2009. He and his wife, Dana, live in western Shasta County.
Comment Policy: We welcome your comments, with some caveats: Please keep your comments positive and civilized. If your comment is critical, please make it constructive. If your comment is rude, we will delete it. If you are constantly negative or a general pest, troll, or hater, we will ban you from the site forever. The definition of terms is left solely up to us. Comments are disabled on articles older than 90 days. Thank you. Carry on.

1 Response

  1. Avatar Crowsfete says:

    I was there today.

    The traditional Memorial Day service could have been held in any town USA and been the same, unpretentious, unprofessional, and heart rendering.

    I walked among the flags that decorated the graves and read the wars and the years of those who had died.

    I was there to honor my 19 year young granddaughter now serving in the United States Marine corps as a corporal. I am grateful that my then husband who served in the US Army as a ranger/paratrooper in Korea came back alive, as did my two sons , one who served in the US Marines and the other in the US Navy.

    The fly-over? Yes, the jet missed the Redding Memorial Park but flew directly over my home on Quartz Hill Rd three miles west, low enough so that my daughter could read the numbers.

    The military parachuter landed on the lawn provided by the park, and was greeted by a handful of bystanders, but was never given another notice after he touched down. A helicopter picked him up later.

    An un-perfect perfect day.