Memorial Day ceremony honors fallen: Commander says people are forgetting the meaning of the sacred day |

Memorial Day ceremony honors fallen: Commander says people are forgetting the meaning of the sacred day

Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune / Retired Army Col. Lowell Landre, 80, who served in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, plants U.S. flags at the grave markers of war veterans before the start of the Memorial Day ceremony at Happy Homestead Cemetery on Monday.

The lament of bagpipes rang out over 300 veterans’ graves at Happy Homestead Cemetery on Monday, their solemn wail like a mother’s cries for a lost son.

The pipes are there every Memorial Day in a ceremony to remember those who have died in military service to this country.

About 100 people, from infants to the elderly, bowed their heads as speakers offered prayers and sang the national anthem, “America the Beautiful” and “Amazing Grace.”

A bugle sounded out “Taps” after a 21-gun salute to end the ceremony hosted by American Legion Post 795.

Behind the crowd, fresh flowers and crisp new American flags adorned the graves of the veterans laid to rest at Happy Homestead.

Several repeated a sentiment that Americans can support the troops while opposing war.

“Nobody hates war more than a soldier does, it’s just that they are the ones called out to that duty,” said Paul McAfee, pipe major for the Black Bear Pipe Band and a former Marine who served as a guard to President Nixon.

Eugene Ross, commander of the Legion post, said generations young and old are forgetting what Memorial Day is about. He invited everyone to attend future ceremonies, which veterans hold sacred.

El Dorado County Supervisor Norma Santiago addressed the crowd, quoting a letter from Abraham Lincoln in which he commends a widow of the Civil War for “the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.”

Santiago later said an important way to support veterans is through public policy that guarantees needed services for surviving military servicemen.

South Lake Tahoe City Councilman Ted Long, who is running against Santiago in the upcoming June election, was also present at the ceremony.

Memorial Day was first observed in May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Bugler francine Tanner, who prefers not to capitalize her first name, read the poem “Freedom,” which she wrote before enlisting in the Air Force in 1969:

“You are a victim of freedom now son

Your mother the flag

Your grandparents the memories

And you, my son, the bewilderment

The Lord said the world shall end by fire

And that it did

By the fire of a gun

For your father.”

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