Remembering the Heroes
Memories were shared and tears shed at Truckee’s annual Memorial Day ceremony on Monday morning.
Close to 40 people gathered at the Sierra Mountain Cemetery under an overcast sky to honor the many men and women from the Tahoe-Truckee community who have risked their lives to serve their country in previous wars and conflicts.
This year’s event, hosted by the Truckee Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 2675 and the Truckee Civil Air Cadets, began with a special prayer led by Second Lt. Mark Della of the Civil Air Patrol for the U.S. armed forces currently serving overseas in the Middle East.
“I know this is a solemn occasion, but I think a round of applause would be appropriate to show our appreciation and thanks for our veterans,” said VFW Commander Gary Thomas, motioning to the handful of men and women in uniform scattered throughout the crowd.
Thomas also thanked the various organizations for sponsoring and carrying out the ceremony, including Truckee Boy Scout Troop 267, which helped place American flags by each veteran gravesite in the cemetery – which totaled more than 100 -the night before the event.
“We’re here today to show our gratitude for all of the men and women, many of whom made the ultimate sacrifice to serve their nation and protect our freedom,” said Mayor Ron Florian, a speaker at the event. “More than 48 million Americans have served in the armed forces at this point, while more than 1 million have died for their country.”
Florian urged those in attendance to show their respect by participating in the “National Moment of Remembrance,” a national moment of silence in honor of U.S. veterans scheduled to take place later in the day.
Florian and Thomas then presented a wreath of crimson poppies in memory of all of the deceased veterans, as the crowd listened to stirring versions of “Amazing Grace” and “Taps” and flags gently rippled in the breeze.
Even after the Civil Air Cadets provided the closing honors for the ceremony, many in attendance remained sharing handshakes and hugs – milling around the gravesites to pay their respects.
Quotes from Veterans:
Cleve Leonesio: “As a three-tour Vietnam vet, I lost a lot of good friends during that time. Today is important because it’s about memories and about showing our gratitude for those who have served this country. It reminds us of the sacrifices that others have made for us.”
Dennis Cook: “The fondest memory I have of my service is of flying home with other vets and of touching American soil in San Francisco when we arrived home. Today reminds me of that.”
Robert Todd: “A lot of people in the world have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Even though there’s just a few people that came out today to show their respects, I’m glad to see a small town come out and come together to support their veterans. It makes me feel very lucky to be here.”