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May 27, 2009 > The ultimate sacrifice

The ultimate sacrifice

By Dustin Findley

The 2009 Memorial Day celebration for Milpitas paid respect to those who have made and make sacrifices.

The first order of business was the raising of the flags and presentation of colors by the Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus, St. Joseph's Assembly 2246.

The mayor invited the United States veterans that were present to take the seats of honor especially set aside for them on the stage.

The-vu Nguyen, representing Supervisor Dave Cortese, issued a proclamation. "Memorial Day is a time for us to reflect on all the goodness and show our gratitude to those who helped us to reach our freedom. And on behalf of Supervisor Dave Cortese, I would like to present a proclamation to the city of Milpitas for helping residents stay focused" on our heroes.

Mayor Livengood revealed that on June 6 the United States will commemorate the 65th anniversary of D-Day, June 6, 1944. "In military terms, D-Day was a success because it led to the liberation of France and it really was the beginning of the end for Nazi Germany and for World War II in many respects" Livengood said.

The Mayor continued that even though it was a success, it came at a very heavy price. It was estimated that before the sun set on that day, June the Sixth, 1944, over 2,000 American soldiers had lost their lives, in addition to many other allied troops.

"There are thousands of stories about the men and women who were there on those beaches. We call them Omaha and Utah. Thousands of stories. And, in fact, there are almost libraries full of books about that day. About what happened. About the sacrifices and heroism. Fortunately those books are here. We can read them. We can remember them. We can honor those who died" the Mayor said in his speech to the large crowd.

Livengood shared two of those thousands of stories, about two men who made the ultimate sacrifice on those beaches on that day, and who were posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest award for anyone in service.

There are more stories like that, Livengood revealed, not only on the beaches of Normandy, but all over the world where United States men and women serve in the armed forces, "with honor, integrity, and have given the ultimate sacrifice. Today, we remember each and every one of those, as best we can. Some of them are faces that we know, we remember. Some of them we've never met, but it doesn't really matter. We're here today to say 'thank you' to them all."

Mayor Livengood shared that Memorial Day really began in 1868. It was called, at that time, Decoration Day. The word "decoration" was used because the president asked all Americans to take a day away from work, from school, from whatever they were doing, and go to the local cemetery and decorate the graves of fallen veterans. Graves were decorated with flowers, flags, and any other memorabilia that was appropriate to recognize those who had given the ultimate sacrifice.

City officials started a new tradition in the city of Milpitas, in the spirit of Decoration Day. They read the names of people featured on various memorials, so that the audience could hear and remember those names.

Afterwards, councilmembers placed wreathes on individual memorials to honor the fallen soldiers who came from the city of Milpitas.

The Milpitas Police Department presented a 21-gun salute, followed by TAPS played by Eagle Scout Alan Berryhill, and a brief moment of silence in remembrance of all those who have given their lives for our country.

"We should leave here remembering what Memorial Day is all about" Livengood said. It is the only day on the calendar we set aside to honor our fallen soldiers: the men and women who have fought and died to protect our freedom. "So let's leave here today keeping them in our thoughts as we finish out or day here in Milpitas. Here in this great country" Livengood said.

Remember those who gave us the gifts of the freedoms that we enjoy and the opportunities that we have.

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