Memorial Day: A day to remember history

Ceremonies held at Rocklin Cemetery
By: Gloria Beverage, Placer Herald Editor
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Nearly 100 people, ranging from toddlers to veterans in their 90s, gathered Monday morning at the Rocklin Cemetery to pay tribute to this country’s military. Ceremonies, co-hosted by the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 904 and the American Legion Post 620, were held in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. In opening the ceremonies, VFW Post Commander Loren Barton teared up as he described a conversation he had with a 7-year-old on Saturday. “This young man came up to me and asked me, ‘What is Memorial Day.’ It touched my heart,” Barton told the crowd. “I tried to explain to him what Memorial Day meant to me.” He went on to say that most people think it’s a three-day holiday weekend to do whatever you want – fishing, camping, being with family and friends. “But, to me, Memorial Day means honoring the servicemen and women who are under the flags here today and throughout this country,” he said. “It represents the living members of our military. It represents to me the military that are now in harm’s way. It represents the freedom that these individuals have given to us – freedom of speech, religion, the right of assembly and freedom of the press – and all the other freedoms in our Constitution and Bill of Rights.” Barton pointed out that freedom comes at a price. “Freedom is given to us by the blood, sweat and tears of our military that lie beneath the flags and the ones serving now,” he said. “Never take those freedoms for granted.” Barton then invited members of the gathering to step forward and share their thoughts or memories. Many of those who stepped to the microphone paid tribute to family members and friends for their service, including the family friend of an airman from Citrus Heights, who was killed in Afghanistan on Thursday. Rocklin Police Sgt. Trent Jewell paid tribute to Officer Matt Redding, who lost his life in the line of duty on Oct. 9, 2005. After the bell-ringing ceremony, VFW member Earl Chinnock urged the gathering to share this country’s legacy with the next generation. “Pass it on to your children,” he said. “And they will do the same to theirs. That way none of (our military) will ever have died in vain.” Serving as honor guard for the ceremonies were members of the Whitney High School Air Force Jr. ROTC: Cadet Staff Sgt. Gregory James, Cadet Sr. Master Sgt. Samuel Flake, Cadet Captain David Horning and Cadet 1st Lt. Davis Lowry and Cadet Capt. Andrew Huie, who played Taps on the bugle. Also on hand was Brian Clark, a member of Boy Scout Troop 29, who led an effort to repaint the white crosses displayed on the graves of veterans each Memorial and Veterans Day. A junior at Rocklin High School, Clark and his crew were able to repaint 300 of the 400 crosses used at the cemetery. The remaining crosses will get a fresh coat of paint in the next few weeks. “They have been used for many years – ever since I started Scouts,” Clark said. The son of Nobuko and Daniel Clark is working to attain the rank of Eagle Scout.