Monday, May 29, 2017

• Memorial Day 2017

The weather was spectacular for Wildomar's annual Memorial Day ceremony at the cemetery. Though in years past it was handled by a local church, they felt it was getting to be more than they could handle and they handed the baton over to the city. 

It was a seamless transition and the 200 people in attendance, including all five city council members, the city manager, and a couple of planning commissioners, enjoyed the program that was put together by the Wildomar VFW Post 1508.

Mayor Tim Walker welcomed the members of the crowd and then turned over the podium to Councilmember Bridgette Moore who fulfilled the role of MC. She introduced VFW Chaplain Scott Burris, who offered an opening prayer. 
The flag was first raised to the top, then lowered to half staff.

After the flag was raised by Boy Scout troop 332, and a recitation of the flag salute, Jessie Taylor sang the national anthem. She did an outstanding job of it too!
Longtime Wildomar resident at The Farm, George Taylor (no relation to Jessie Taylor) salutes during the singing of the national anthem. His wife Gayl is to his right.

The original speaker was a late scratch, so incoming Post Commander of the VFW, Steve Regalado, stepped in and gave the "Memorial Day Message". 
Steve Regalado delivers the Memorial Day Message to the crowd.

Flags and crosses were put next to the graves of veterans that have since passed away. As part of the ceremony, all 147 of their names were read by council members Dustin Nigg, Marsha Swanson and Ben Benoit. 

Most of those died of natural causes in the USA. One name that I recognized, that died in action, was Justin Hunt. 

There is a memorial to him at the cemetery, and Memorial Day is aimed at servicemen and women that died while serving the country, as he did (as opposed to Veterans Day, which is for all those that served). 
If you shop at the Stater Brothers by Clinton Keith, you've most likely seen this display.
The VFW had a "Patriots Pen" essay contest, and two students from Calvary Murrieta were chosen to read their essays during the ceremony. Two 8th graders (soon to be 9th graders) read theirs to the gathering.

"Freedom, equality, justice, peace; these are the virtues that America stands for," were the opening lines from Hailey Soules' essay. She added, "My ideal America, where people of all nationalities, men and women, can live in freedom without having to be judged by the color of their skin, a place that everyone is made equal and has a chance to live a fuller life, no matter who you are."

I found the key portion of Brianna Campos' essay to be, "A united America, with our flag held high, waving in the wind, reminds me of my precious freedom. I stand firm in the fact that I can believe what I choose, and I can live how I choose without any consequences for my beliefs and personal life choices."

As councilmember Dustin Nigg said, "What two, awesome, young women; patriots. Am I right?" To which the crowd applauded.
Incoming 9th graders Brianna Campos and Hailey Soules.

To round out the ceremony, that lasted about 45 minutes, the themes from each branch of the military were played as a salute to them. As each came over the loudspeaker, those that had been in that part of the service stood up. 

The VFW Auxiliary was called upon to present a wreath to honor all that have fallen in service to our great nation. 
Bridgette Moore, and Lucy Nigg placed the ceremonial wreath on a easel.

Thanks to the City of Wildomar that stepped in and put this together in just under a month's time. There was a nod of recognition by Bridgette Moore to the church group that used to sponsor this event. They did a nice job, but personally I'm happy to see such an all encompassing community event as this, no longer being tied to a single church. 

Let's not forget that there are plenty of non churchgoers that also gave the ultimate sacrifice, or had family members that did. Let's also keep in mind that there are many different mainstream faiths that mourn the fallen, and perhaps there's a way to reflect such realities in the 2018 service.

Lastly, I bumped into a local photographer there named Lynn Stephens. She took many pictures during the hour and said that she was going to post the images online. She can be found on facebook at the following link:
Tender Expressions and Memories

•          •          •

Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. America will never forget their sacrifices.

– Harry S Truman (1884-1972)

Wildomar Rap can't quarrel with the words of the 33rd president.

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