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Memorial Day – How Can We Forget?

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Today, the day before Memorial Day, at 0700 (7am, for the 14th year, all the names of Californians who died in the Vietnam War were read out loud at the Vietnam Memorial.The Memorial is circular in design, with full relief bronze sculptures depicting scenes from daily life during the war. The sculptures represent many sides of the war, with grunts, nurses, and POWs. The American flag waves over the Memorial. The 5,822 names of California’s dead and missing are engraved on twenty-two black granite panels, arranged by their hometowns. In a ring arranged around the granite panels, there are stone benches facing the names.

On the Memorial is a tribute to the women who served proudly in keeping American free.

By 1:30, the time for the Memorial Day Ceremony, the readings took a pause. 5,822 is a lot of names.

Col. Terry Knight was the Master of Ceremonies and welcomed everyone, along with Ted Adams, Vietnam Veterans Asssociation500 President.

Ted Cadwallader, Commander 49’ers Ex-Prisoners of War, was born in the Phillipines and was a civilian POW just before WWII and interned for 37 months in a Japanese concentration camp in Manilla in the Phillipine Islands.

The first known use of POW was in 1660.

“The  number of Americans counted as POWs in the 20th century was over 140,000,” Cadwallader explained. “World War II accounted for over 137 American POW’s alone.”

It is hard to accurately count the number of MIA’s.

Cadwallader read a quote by a famous American, George Washington: “The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional as to how they perceive how the veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation.”

With the assistance of Gregory McNeill, Cadwallader gave a POW/MIA Missing Man Table Ceremony. The two men standing behind the table are two POWs.

Gregory McNeill shows what the POW/MIA table means.

The small table occupies a place of dignity and honor. It’s set for one, symbolizing that members of our Armed Forces are missing from our ranks. They are referred to as Prisoners of War and Missing in Action. They are called ‘comrades’.

The table is small symbolizing the frailty of one prisoner alone against his or her suppressors.

The white tablecloth is symbolic of the purity of their country’s call to arms.

Blood shed in sacrifice is represented by a red rose.

A yellow ribbon on the vase represents the yellow ribbons worn on the lapels of thousands, demanding with unyielding determination the proper accounting of our comrades who are not among us this day.

A slice of lemon on the plate reminds us of their bitter fate. The salt sprinkled on the plate reminds us of the tears shed by families as they wait. The glass is inverted as they cannot toast with us on this day.

The chair is empty – they are not here.  The candle is reminiscent of hope to illuminate their way home to a grateful nation.

After this ceremony, Louis Lopez, Department of Veterans Affairs, read a declaration from Governor Brown. Flags will be flown at half-staff May 27, 2013 on Memorial Day.

Louis Lopez gives the Memorial Day Proclamation to Ted Adams, VVA500 President.
Phil Rios Gulf War and Vietnam Veteran shows a flag he had kept through the two wars he fought.
Guest Speaker Command Sergeant Major, William Clark, Jr., State Senior Enlisted Advisor CA National Guard.
One of the statues seen through one of the wreaths placed at the Memorial.
Members of Vietnam Veterans of America, members of VVA500.

When this ceremony concluded the reading of the 5,822 resumed.

Here is a link to services taking place on May 27, 2013 Memorial Day: sacvalleyvets.wordpress.com/2013/05/23/memorial-day-2013-events-in-the-sacramento-valley/

Editor’s note: The “News Digest” goes out every Tuesday morning and highlights our best stories, photos and videos from the week prior. Sign me up.

Memorial Day – How Can We Forget? via @sacramentopress

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