Memorial Day isn’t just about barbecues, three-day weekends or trips to the beach.
For the loved ones of military personnel who died in combat or of veterans who have died since serving their country, it’s a day to remember and honor all of them.
Although Merced resident Ann Kelley never wore a military uniform, she comes from a long line of family members who served in the armed forces. Kelley’s three brothers served in the Army, her son was in the Navy and her nephew was killed in combat in Afghanistan.
The 72-year-old is president of American Legion Auxiliary Unit 83 and will take part in a number of ceremonies in Merced on Monday, Memorial Day.
“Most of my family goes to some type of service on Memorial Day. If you’ve lost a member of your family in the service, such as I have, it’s a very moving experience for me,” Kelley said. “I go in honor of their memory and all those that have fallen before us.”
Memorial Day in Merced will kick off with a 10 a.m. service in the veteran’s section of the Merced District Cemetery, 1300 B St. The ceremony will include a presentation of the colors as well as the posting of a wreath and folded flag.
Military officer and congressional candidate Mel Levey is scheduled to speak.
At noon, there will be a ceremony by the local Veterans of Foreign Wars chapter at Courthouse Park. The names of fallen soldiers will be read, along with the playing of taps and an Honor Guard presentation.
Following the presentation, the public will be treated to hot dogs at American Legion Merced Post 83, 939 W. Main St.. Another memorial service will take place at 1:30 p.m. in front of the American Legion Hall on Main Street. Miniature flags will be posted in front of the building with the names and pictures of service members, and the names will be read to the public.
Monday will be the first time Terina Davis, 42, will attend a Memorial Day cemetery service. Davis lost her 60-year-old father, who was in the Army, four years ago. Davis’ grandfather, who served in the Navy, died in combat.
Davis served in the Air Force for 16 years and works as a certifying official for Merced College’s Veterans Resource Center. The college has about 300 veterans, she said.
“This is my first time going because I just joined the VFW Merced chapter at the beginning this month,” Davis said. “To me, it’s about remembering our past comrades that were in the service that have fought for our freedom in all the wars.
“I thank the soldiers from the past,” Davis added, “but I also thank the ones of the present and future.”
Sun-Star staff writer Ramona Giwargis can be reached at (209) 385-2477 or firstname.lastname@example.org.