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June 4, 2010 > Memorial Day, 'We Remember'

Memorial Day, 'We Remember'

By Simon Wong
Photos By Simon Wong

The Allied Veterans Cemetery Committee hosted the 107th Annual Memorial Day Service on May 31, 2010 at Lone Tree Cemetery, Hayward, site of the oldest continuing Memorial Day celebration in Southern Alameda County. The service was an opportunity to thank and honor America's past and present service personnel and to celebrate and savor the liberty and life they have bestowed upon us. What we take for granted would not be possible without their valor and sacrifice.

"We don't come here, today, to grieve or for sorrow but to say 'Thank You'," said Lone Tree Cemetery President Bob Mattos.

Approximately, 1,400 people gathered in and around the William D. Hayward Memorial Amphitheater. Veterans, their families and friends, representatives from the cities of Hayward and neighboring cities and from the County, the faith community, veterans' organizations, the five branches of the armed services and their respective Guard and Reserve units, Boy Scouts of America, Hayward Area Recreation & Park District, Hayward Fire Department, Alameda County Sheriff's Department and numerous others turned out in force. The sense of community and respect was evident.

"Many of you may have watched American Idol but if you direct your attention to the American Flag at Soldiers' Plot you will see the resting places of those whom I consider 'American Idols'," said General Manager Tom Gratny, CSM US Army Ret.

Just before City of Hayward Mayor Mike Sweeney introduced distinguished guests, the scream of two F-16 Fighting Falcon jet fighters belonging to 144th Fighter Wing, a unit of the California Air National Guard, based in Fresno, was heard overhead. The fly-by was received to rapturous applause. 144th Fighter Wing provides air superiority globally and air-defense protection for the western United States.

The Invocation and Benediction were delivered by VA Chaplain Emeritus Rev. Dr. Conrad Rougeux. All observed a moment's silence for the late Allen Strutz who organized the Lone Tree Cemetery Memorial Day Service for 57 years; this is the second year without him. Mayor Sweeney led the Pledge of Allegiance. The Hon. Dr. Marshall Mitzman, USAF, American Legion Post 870 re-issued General Logan's Order of May 5, 1868, proclaiming Memorial Day which was first observed on May 30, 1868. Robert C. Mattos and Tom Gratny extended Greetings and thanked all who helped to make the event possible. Michael Emerson, American Legion Post 649 Castro Valley and VFW Post 9601 read Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, delivered on November 19, 1863 at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Capt. Patrick Maguire, Chief of Prevention, 11th District US Coast Guard gave the Address of the Day.

The Hayward Municipal Band delighted all with their performance of the National Anthem, America, a selection of favorites and a medley of military anthems. Veterans and current service personnel stood to attention and saluted on hearing their respective branch's anthem.

VFW Post 9601 delivered a 21-gun salute to deceased servicemen and servicewomen before US Naval Sea Cadets and Fremont Elks Lodge 2121 laid memorial wreaths at the Hayward Allied Veterans-Soldier Plot where each war grave had been decorated with a flag by Boy Scouts. A four-man Boy Scout Color Guard raised the American Flag and Prisoner of War colors before a bugler from the Hayward Municipal Band sounded Taps, the 24-note bugle call which signals the end of the military day (or lights out) and is played by the military at burials and memorial services.

Hayward Fire Department and the Alameda County Sheriff's Department's staff attended in their own time, manning exhibits, including a bomb disposal robot. Proud owners showed off military jeeps and vintage cars to old and young alike.

Bras & Mattos Monuments generously provided doughnuts during the hour-long ceremony. Guests were entertained to a barbecue lunch prepared and served by local Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts and Lone Tree Cemetery staff.

"This was a very moving and emotional ceremony," reflected Lolita Morelli, guest soloist with the Hayward Municipal Band.

Lone Tree Cemetery
24591 Fairview Avenue, Hayward
(510) 582-1274

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