Every Memorial Day we honor those who gave all. This year marked the 24th Annual Memorial Day Observance for Clayton, CA. At 10 am dignitaries and citizens gathered to pay tribute to our fallen heroes.
The program opened with music by the Diablo View Middle School Band, directed by Eric Thompson, and Master of Ceremonies Scott DeVenney. The Presentation of Colors, an opening prayer by VFW Post 1525 Chaplain, The Rev. Tom Kelnhofer, the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem set the tone for a moving program.
In the Salute to the Armed Forces, members representing each branch of the service stood for recognition as their branches’ song rang out through the crowd. Every recent conflict seemed to be represented as members of the assemblage rose for recognition. These are the men and women who returned after serving to keep us free. It is a worth remembering that all gave some, some gave all at this time in our history.
There were representatives for our elected officials, but most impressive was Steve Glazer, California State Senator, who managed to attend in person as did Mayor Tim Grayson from Concord.
After Joy Koonin, from Berean Christian High School, read “In Flanders Field”, Natalie Tollefson, Surviving spouse of PFC Benjamin B. Tollefson (KIA Iraq. 31 Dec 2008), spoke eloquently and moved us to tears with her story in “Surviving Hope and Conquering Fear”.
The keynote address “the Jigsaw Puzzle of American Patriotic Sacrifice” given by Dr. Daniel E. Helix, MGen, U.S. Volunteers stirred us further as he took us on a journey through skirmishes in other lands so we could feel service on foreign soil.
Yesterday’s Kids invited participation in the Battle Hymn of the Republic before the Rifle salute, taps and flag folding let us experience, in part, the end of the journey for those who gave all and their families. It is important to remember: it is not the loss of single life when one of our soldiers is taken in battle, it is the dissolution of a family, the loss of a son or daughter and children who will grow up without a parent. Each time, every time a warrior is lost, there are family members left to grieve and put their lives back together.
After Yesterday’s kids sang God Bless America, Chaplain Thomas Gutshall, MAJ. Chief of Chaplains USV/A, VFW Post 1525 closed the program with prayer.
Although the program always ends, we took new vision, new understanding and the stories of those present with us. Brave men and women are still volunteering to protect our freedom and serve us at home and overseas. Take a moment to thank them. Pay for their meal or buy them a drink if you can, but always remember, they paid for our freedom, our very way of life with their service. Some gave Some, Some gave all.
My thanks and gratitude to those who currently serve and those who served before.
God Bless America!