I have a weakness for Memorial Day ceremonies. Remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of their country is important to me.
Fort Rosecrans on Point Loma, overlooking the harbor
For nearly 30 years, Pat and I have made it our practice to attend services and visit gravesites of fallen warriors. Our pastor in California got us hooked years ago. Each year, on the Sunday before Memorial Day, our church would conduct an outdoor service on the beautiful grounds of Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in Point Loma. The cemetery is situated on the end of the peninsula, which separates the Pacific Ocean from San Diego Harbor, which it overlooks. The view is stunning. Service personnel, past and present, would always attend the service in uniform, our choir would perform, and our pastor always preached. At the conclusion of the service, most of us would wander through the cemetery, reading headstones and gazing at the monuments.
Pat and I moved from San Diego years ago, but I hear the practice of our former congregation continues. I'm glad. Since we were there, many of us have parented young Marines, Sailors, Soldiers, and Airmen of our own. And, over the years, just as many of us have buried fathers and mothers who served in their country in their generation, the Greatest Generation, as is known.
Maintaining our family's tradition, today, I attended the service in our present home of Georgetown, Texas. A multitude from Georgetown and the greater Austin area showed up to pay tribute to all members of the military who have given their lives. The speakers included U.S. Rep. John Carter, and Army Sgt. Maj. Raymond F. Chandler III, the highest ranking non-commissioned officer in the U.S. Army, who I was able to meet briefly after the service (my apologies to my Marine son, Josh!).
The most moving moment for me was when the WWII vets were asked to stand and be acknowledged. There were quite a few who stood up. One was seated a few feet in front of me, who I learned in the few minutes we talked afterward, served on the destroyer, USS Newcomb. It was one of many vessels my dad's ship, Vestal, worked on after the Newcomb received severe damage in the Battle of Okinawa. Although Dad had been transferred to another repair ship by that point in the war, this Navy vet had been present in several other naval actions in which Dad was also involved.
All in all, it was a wonderful morning. I'm so glad I went.