Though Memorial Day commemorates the men and women who have died in U.S. military service, chaplain Capt. Kenneth Cain stressed to a crowd here Sunday the importance of remembering and honoring all veterans who have died.
“Not all who sleep here died in combat or were even in a combat arena,” he told the roughly 600 people who attended a Memorial Day service at San Joaquin Valley National Cemetery.
But all those who served in the armed forces were “willing to join their ranks if necessary,” Cain said. “It’s that mind-set of willingness to go into the combat theater” that makes the veterans laid to rest here and elsewhere American heroes.
The ceremony included the posting of colors by the California State Honor Guard honors team from Merced; the national anthem and other songs performed by Los Banos High School students; wreath presentation by Gold Star Mothers, Gold Star Wives and Blue Star Mothers & Families; a rifle salute by the California State Honor Guard; and a flyover by the NorCal Crosswinds.
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The keynote speaker was U.S. Rep Jim Costa, D-Fresno. While it’s wonderful to gather with friends and family and celebrate with barbecues, he reminded the audience that Congress created Memorial Day “to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice. ... They gave America their most precious gift, the last full measure of their devotion. They gave their lives.”