Memorial Day | Remembering those who served
May 31, 2011
TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; Plant a flag. Pause. Salute. and#8220;Thank you for your service.and#8221; Plant a flag, pause, salute, and a thank you for your service. A chill breeze snapped row upon row of American flags on Sierra Mountain Cemetery grounds Sunday, rippling an archetypal patriotism through the soul, a call to pay tribute to brave soldiers who sacrificed their lives for our freedoms.
and#8220;We are honoring the memory of people who served their country,and#8221; said Lt. Col. Gabriel of the Civil Air Patrol Tahoe Truckee Composite Squadron, one of eight senior and seven cadet members who turned out to decorate veterans’ grave sites in the Truckee Cemetery District. and#8220;The Civil Air Patrol shows these kids they are part of something much bigger than themselves. We hold them up to a high standard in the community.and#8221;
About 140 community members and#8212; veterans, children, sisters, brothers, fathers and mothers and#8212; gathered at the 10 a.m. Monday Memorial Day ceremony to pay tribute to those who died in service to the United States of America.
Truckee Cemetery District Board President Anne Devoe made introductions, followed by the Civil Air Patrol presentation of the colours. Hands over hearts or at attention holding a stiff salute, the crowd said the Pledge of Allegiance. Rachel Nadell and Jason Smith performed Taps, the melancholy notes wafting through snow-greened snow, headstones adorned with flowers and flags. The sun rose to the occasion, a gentle kiss on face and head.
Pastor Wayne Hoag of Sierra Bible Church continued with an invocation, reading from a letter from a fallen soldier’s pocket, who, facing impending battle, then knew God: and#8220;It is possible I will not return and#8230; death now holds no fear for me.and#8221; A prayer was said, thanking God for those who gave their lives, for our country and for each and every one of us.
Fifth District Supervisor Ted Owens said and#8220;Good Morning.and#8221; A resounding Good Morning, in that we say it every day, it is commonplace, pleasant, and in the U.S. every day is a good day. We begin our days safely, free from tyranny, free to say good morning. Owens suggested we take a moment each day to give those who served our remembrances, because it is, indeed, a good morning.
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Truckee Mayor Richard Anderson thanked the Truckee Cemetery District for maintaining the grounds with dignity for those laid to rest. And that many were celebrating Memorial Day with barbecues, get togethers: all appropriate and good. Because we have the freedom to celebrate, freedom that rests on the terrible sacrifice made by our soldiers, our loved ones.
and#8220;My mother wrote to me in 1990,and#8221; said Katie Holley, whose grandmother served in 1917 as a nurse, and whose family has a long line of military and career military. Her mother’s letter, written when Holley was expecting her first child, was to sent ensure the legacy of gratitude continued through the generations.
A mother’s poem, by Jane Aston Norwood, was read by Devoe. Norwood pulled us into her son’s journey, from a 19-year-young man, to a dedicated, finely trained Marine, to the horrible night when polished brass buttons came to the door: Her beloved marine was dead. Devoe’s reading made tears tremble and slip. This mother churned sorrow and suffering slowly into courage. To move forward, proudly, in honor of her son’s bravery and sacrifice.
The Mountain Belles, the all-women a cappella group, sang the national anthem, a traditional Amazing Grace, America the Beautiful, and a rousing Grand Old Flag.
The ceremony ended with coffee and light refreshments. The crowd mingled to shake hands, hug and visit graves. The veterans might have shed a tear, but they are not sad. They are our warriors, attending in celebration.
Stan Rupiper, WW II Army-Air Force, has attended many times. and#8220;I went to mass this morning, and then this. What a great day for the vets,and#8221; he said.
Another familiar face, John and#8220;Sargeand#8221; Gentile, was a WW II artillery gunner in Central Europe and Germany. His grip firm, his eyes now blind, Sarge said: and#8220;I used to kick ass.and#8221; He is one of four brothers, three in WW II and one in Korea, who all came back home. Sarge gives his mother credit: and#8220;She twisted the Almighty’s arm in true Italian fashion.
and#8220;I am bursting with joy, and had tears that all these good people came, and devoted veterans, to celebrate all the good men who have served this beautiful country. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else,and#8221; Sarge said.
Veteran Tony Steiner, who served in the Pacific as a medic from 1943-46, came straight back to California. Originally from Detroit, Mich., he went through basic training in San Francisco. He said if he made it back to the States, he’d settle in California where all the beautiful girls are. Steiner noted how different armaments are today, that is used to be and#8220;mostly bullets.and#8221; He visits the Reno, Nev. Veteran’s Administration and sees many more amputees as a result of explosives.
A positive change stateside is seen by six-year Marine Corps veteran Bryan Devoe. He served one and a half years in Vietnam, and did not get a hero’s welcome. No welcome at all. Devoe feels the Vietnam veterans are finally being accepted, and as Patriot Guard member makes sure returning vets are honored. He arranges coming homes with surprises, perhaps a family present in the warmest of welcomes. Anne and Bryan Devoe’s son served in the Marines 1992-96, was involved in the Bosnia campaign, was taken from the Devoes May 10, 2002, and is interned in the Sierra Mountain Cemetery.
No matter what branch, what war, what continent, the camaraderie, the pride in serving is palpable. A higher standard, something much bigger than ourselves.