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Citrus Heights residents, leaders gather for Memorial Day ceremony

Mayor Tim Schaefer, front right, sits with other city leaders and residents during a Memorial Day ceremony at Sylvan Cemetery on May 29, 2023. // M. Hazlip

By Mike Hazlip–
Citrus Heights residents and community leaders gathered at Sylvan Cemetery on Monday for a ceremony remembering service members who died in the line of duty.

Sylvan Cemetery General Manager Cyndi Price said it was a good turn out and thanked council members for attending and the Folsom Harmony Express for providing acapella vocal music during the event.

Police Chief Alex Turcotte joined Sacramento County Supervisor Sue Frost in stressing the importance of remembering the nation’s history and those who have sacrificed in the armed forces.

“The way to honor those that went before is to live your life to the fullest, enjoy the freedom that you’ve been given,” Turcotte said. “And remember, they are not heroes because of the last day; they are heroes because of every day up until that day.”

Frost urged attendees to teach their children and grandchildren “about love and respect for our nation and to respect our way of life and to respect those who have sacrificed to preserve it.”

Citrus Heights Mayor Tim Schaefer reflected on the contribution of service members who are honored on Memorial Day.

“Their duty was not borne of a desire for personal gain or recognition,” Schaefer said. “Rather, it sprang from an unwavering love for their country and a deep-seated belief in the principles we stand for.”

Sylvan Cemetery spokesman Jim Monteton recounted the number of service members killed during all conflicts dating back to the Revolutionary War. He called war an “evil” and said the Vietnam War was particularly difficult because of negative public reaction to the conflict.

On his return to the United States, Monteton recalled being told to wear civilian clothes in order to avoid conflicts with those who opposed the war.

“When we came in, one of the last things they told us was that when we’re going to our next duty assignment: ‘wear your civilian clothes when you’re traveling, there’s a lot of people that don’t want to see a uniform.’” Monteton said. “It was hard to take, like an arrow through your heart.”

Monteton closed his remarks to a standing ovation.

Members of the Citrus Heights Police Department gave a rifle salute followed by a bugler playing taps. Amazing Grace was played by bagpipe during the ceremony, and the Folsom Harmony Express led the audience in a chorus of God Bless America.

Monday’s remembrance is one of several annual events held at Sylvan Cemetery that include a 9/11 memorial, and a Veteran’s Day ceremony.

Memorial Day, formerly known as Decoration Day, traces its history back to 1868 where it commemorated soldiers who died during the Civil War.

Monteton said the original day was a time to decorate the graves of the fallen, and the end of May “seemed to be appropriate since many spring flowers are available.” Memorial Day was later extended to honor all Americans who have died in all wars.

Sylvan Cemetery is located at 7401 Auburn Blvd.

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