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Memorial Day ceremony in Citrus Heights honors the fallen

Memorial Day, Citrus Heights
Members of the Citrus Heights Police Department’s Color Guard head up a Memorial Day March at Sylvan Cemetery on Monday. // CH Sentinel

Guest article by Citrus Heights resident Michael Bullington–
On Monday, Citrus Heights residents and community leaders honored those veterans that did not come home with an overflow crowd under the gazebo at Sylvan Cemetery during a Memorial Day Observance.

Among the more than 200 attendees were all five city council members, Police Chief Ron Lawrence, Sacramento County Supervisor Sue Frost, and former Supervisor Roberta MacGlashan.

The Folsom Harmony Express Men’s Choir serenaded attendees with an assortment of patriotic favorites, as the Citrus Heights Police Department’s Color Guard marched along the cemetery’s Avenue of Flags, accompanied by members of the West Virginia 7th Infantry Civil War re-enactors, a uniformed American Revolutionary War re-enactor, and members of the Boy Scout Troop 228 and American Legion Post 637.

Acting Chaplain James Miranda of Post 637 invoked God’s name and blessing to begin the ceremony, followed by a short speech by Citrus Heights Mayor Steve Miller who detailed the numbers of honored dead from prior U.S. military conflicts and eulogized them as those who took the field instead of taking a knee. Quoting author R.J. Heller, the mayor said, “In the aftermath, we are because they were.”

Chief Lawrence challenged those in attendance to think about the fallen always and to acknowledge that America is “the greatest nation on this planet.”

Supervisor Frost drew inspiration from the words of the Gettysburg Address, where Lincoln spoke of those that gave the “last full measure of devotion,” and Gen. George Patton’s admonition that, “It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.”

Related: More than 100 veterans, homeless served during Citrus Heights ‘Stand Down’ event

Commander Paul Reyes, a Marine Corps veteran with the local American Legion post, recalled the loss of his father in 2001, the man whose service in the Navy earned a Purple Heart and made him a model in his son’s eyes forever.

Veteran and Cemetery Chairman Jim Monteton spoke of the horrors of war, wishing that there would never be another one. He went on to commend the Founding Fathers for seemingly getting smarter with the passage of time in the wisdom shown by their wording of the U.S. Constitution, which he characterized as being simple enough for everyone to understand. He emphasized that the U.S. Constitution stands apart from all others in its use of the word “happiness,” which he said exists in no other constitution.

Monteton lauded the 1400 veterans buried in Sylvan Cemetery and noted this year’s observance marks the 150th anniversary of the establishment of Memorial Day, originally commemorating the war dead from the Civil War. He harkened back to the admonition of President Ronald Reagan, who said that freedom can be lost in the space of only one generation.

Closing with an acknowledgment of the soldier who didn’t return and is listed as MIA, Monteton pointed to an MIA flag draped over an empty chair in front of him.

The event concluded as four  Civil War and Revolutionary War re-enactors fired three volleys from the rifles to salute the fallen, followed by the playing of Taps.

Michael Bullington is a 39-year student of history and a 34-year resident of Citrus Heights.

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