Hundreds of Turlockers gathered at the Turlock Memorial Park and Funeral Home Monday for a solemn ceremony in honor of the soldiers who lost their lives fighting for America.
The 60th annual Turlock Memorial Day service was marked by moments of silence, prayers, and remembrances of those who gave everything for their country.
“This is a sacred, almost visible presence of those who have gone before us,” said Gunner Bruce, Commander of Turlock's American Legion and Veteran of Foreign Wars Posts. “We honor their memory.”
Bruce and other local military men spoke about the importance of remembering not just that Americans had died, but that they did so to protect our country. Paper poppies were laid in memory of individual soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines.
“Our children must know who they are, what they did, and why they did it,” said Earl Hamilton, Chaplain of the Turlock American Legion and Honor Guard. “Take their memories, take their dreams and walk forward.”
Representatives of U.S. Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Turlock) and State Assemblywoman Kristen Olsen (R-Modesto) were both on-hand for the service. Both had other engagements and could not attend the Turlock Memorial Day in person, though Denham has attended in past years.
Turlock Mayor John Lazar also spoke, paying tribute to the American soldiers who lost their lives. He spoke of the day's history, and how wonderful it is that Memorial Day marks the first day of Summer.
“What could be a more fitting tribute to America and our heroes than a day that begins a season of warmth and light?” Lazar asked.
The Hilmar Community Band played in honor of the various service branches. And the service closed with a 21-gun Honor Guard salute, and the playing of “Taps.”
“The people in this cemetery, they protected America's values and America's way of life,” said Turlock High School Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corp instructor and Retired U.S. Marine Corps. Maj. Kelly Cross.