Emotional Memorial Day ceremony held at Happy Homestead in South Tahoe
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Patty Smith fought back tears as she spoke to a few dozen Friday morning at Happy Homestead Cemetery.
The South Lake Tahoe resident, and mom, said she never really knew what Memorial Day meant until 13 years ago.
Smith lost her son, Sgt. Timothy Michael Smith, who was killed in action in Iraq on April 7, 2008.
“Since then my whole world has been turned upside down,” she said.
Bob St. Angelo from the American Legion Post 795 followed on the podium and said, “Our thoughts and prayers are with you always Patty.”
While most people revel in a three-day holiday weekend, many are intimately remembering those that paid the ultimate sacrifice.
A somber, emotional ceremony was hosted by American Legion Post 795 that was recorded and will be broadcast online on the holiday, Monday, May 31.
“This is everything. Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, 911 Remembrance, all of those are important,” American Legion Post Commander and Vietnam War veteran John Lingar told the Tribune. “If we don’t remember, nobody else will.”
Volunteers from the American Legion and Daughters of the American Revolution placed about 600 flags on soldier’s graves at the cemetery before the ceremony.
The ceremony featured multiple speakers including District 5 Supervisor Sue Novasel, South Lake Tahoe Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Jay Manning, Carol Olivas, president of the American Legion Ladies Auxiliary and DAR Regent Rosemary Manning. South Lake Tahoe Mayor Tamara Wallace was also scheduled to speak, and was there Friday morning, but was apparently called away.
Manning talked about how firefighting is steeped in tradition, including the ringing of the bell.
Manning and another member of SLTFR as a tribute to life and service, rang the bell three times, followed by a pause, then another three times and a pause, and three more rings once more.
Songs were sung by Davin Kangas and Jill Sharlow and Amazing Grace and Taps were played on the bagpipes.
District 5 Veteran Affairs Commissioner Dan Browne was also on hand to plant flags and recently presented 96-year old Lake Tahoe veteran Robert Baker with a Challenge Coin from the Lake Tahoe Veterans Alliance. Just days after Baker was presented with the coin, he unexpectedly passed away.
“I’m doing better than most and this is my opportunity to pay back those who have served,” Browne said. “If they serve, they deserve. These are sacred events that need to be remembered.”
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