(Right) Das Williams, 35th District Assemblyman stepped in for Assemblyman Jeff Gorell, a Navy Reserve now on active duty in Afghanistan to deliver the keynote address at Monday’s Memorial Day Ceremony. Looking on are Al Pineda, Richard Ruiz and other members of the Mercer-Prieto Post 2043 Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Memorial Day: Observance honors those who make ultimate sacrifice

June 01, 2011
Santa Paula News

This year Memorial Day actually fell on the traditional day of observance for those who died in service to the nation. But the only thing that mattered to hundreds of people who attended the annual ceremony held at Pierce Brothers Santa Paula Cemetery was showing they will never forgot those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Sponsored by the Mercer-Prieto Post 2043 Veterans of Foreign Wars Monday’s Memorial Day observance was held at the Grand Army of the Republic monument, adorned with American flags of all sizes that decorated the entire cemetery.

Santa Paula Airport aviators conducted a flyover during the ceremony that honored military members lost across generations of war.

VFW Post Commander Albino Pineda welcomed the crowd and noted, “Citizens throughout this country have gathered to honor those men and women,” who lost their lives “protecting our freedom… we also honor those Missing in Action,” and all who served.

He thanked various supporters and noted Mayor Fred Robinson and Councilman Ralph Fernandez were in attendance.

Pastor Joel Hortiales of El Buen Pastor United Methodist Church offered the invocation and the Isbell Middle School Band, which had offered a post-ceremony concert, performed the National Anthem under the direction of Scott Knef.

Past VFW Post 2043 Commander Bill Florio told the crowd that the gathering reflected the “Respect and prayers” for those who died in service of their country.

Florio, who served in World War II, Korea and Viet Nam, is a one time “flyboy and dive bomber” who also acted as a logistical commander for Air Force One under three presidents.

Florio said he met featured speaker 35th District Assemblyman Das Williams at the Ventura Veterans Home where he now lives and he is impressed with the elected officials devotion to veterans and their issues.

Williams noted that although he does not represent Santa Paula he is always available to step in for his Assembly colleague Jeff Gorell, a Navy Reserve now on active duty in Afghanistan.

“Jeff’s a Republican and I’m a Democrat and we don’t mind breaking the rules of working together,” said Williams to a strong round of applause.

The military teaches self-sacrifice something he said society has become increasingly removed from.

“During World War II many members of Congress or their family members,” served the military but “Now, only one family member of a Congressman is serving although we have two wars… ”

Earlier Williams attended a ceremony in Goleta where he met a Japanese American who although is family had been interned “He volunteered for military service anyway… ”

Williams own grandfather, an Indonesian, was also a member of the Greatest Generation whose stories about his experiences as a young volunteer later captured and a POW are a mixture of humor and horror.

“The Greatest Generation beat fascism, got us out of the Great Depression and beat communism… we want to honor them but more than that,” Williams said “we want to learn from them and emulate them.”

Following Williams’ remarks there was the Laying of the Wreaths by various organizations and individuals.

Theodore Rabago, who had served for almost a decade in the Army’s 107th LRSD MI, told the crowd that a flag atop the GAR monument appeared “200 hours and 39 minutes ago,” when the news was released that 9-11 terrorist attack mastermind Bin Laden had been killed.

The VFW Post and Korean War Veterans Association Chapter 56 Combined Rifle Squad offered a Salute to Fallen Comrades, “Taps” was played by KWVA Bugler Rudy Arellano and more planes that flew in formation marked the conclusion of the ceremony.

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