Veterans, elected officials, and community members gathered at Turlock Memorial Park this morning for the Turlock Memorial Day Service. Regardless of where they came from and whether they were veterans or not, many of those gathered at the service were bound by a sense of loss from a family member or friend that that gave some or all when they went to war.
“When you go back… I think it’s about a million and a half people that lost their lives in conflict starting with the Revolutionary War all the way through today, and think about not only those folks but their family members that had to grieve those losses… realize this is more of a somber day. It’s important that we recognize that,” said County Supervisor Vito Chiesa.
“Our flag does not fly because of the wind that moves it. It flies with the last breath of each veteran who dies protecting it,” recited Commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5059 Mike Seward.
Members of the public lined up to set a poppy on the memorial placed in the center of the service. Participating community members spoke on the loved ones they had lost and are honoring this day.
Whether it was a father who served in World War 2 or family members serving currently, every poppy laid at the memorial held a story and a memory from a family member or friend honoring their memory.
Each branch of the military was honored through the performance of their branch’s theme. Veterans such as Representative Denham stood proudly as their branch’s theme played.
Veterans from multiple wars were in attendance, whether it was Frank Lee Martin, a 4 year navy veteran from the Korean War, or a veteran from Vietnam who was still combating the effects of Agent Orange.
“This one of the largest veteran populations in the entire country,” stated Representative Jeff Denham.
“To have the largest veteran population in the country and to continue to ask our veterans and their families to drive all the way to Palo Alto is something we need to fix.”
“We need a local hospital right here to care for and honor our largest veteran population in the country.”
Even though, as Supervisor Chiesa stated, today was “more of a somber day” as the community reflected on and honored the sacrifices that have been made, the service was also seen as a great way to celebrate their sacrifice as well.
“Mike [Seward] and all the guys that put this together do a great job of making sure that we are able to remember the sacrifices but also celebrate the sacrifices and be proud that we’re Americans,” stated Mayor Gary Soiseth.
“This ceremony is always great. It’s great to see a huge community turnout.”