In the Middle East, Memorial Day has American soldiers thinking about the friends they've lost and what's going on back home.
"You remember your family, wondering what they are doing," Eugene Peters, U.S. Army chief warrant officer, said during Monday's keynote address at Woodbridge Masonic Cemetery.
"You want to think that they are having fun without you and wishing you were there," Peters said. "But you know that the families do the hard time of war. It is the grandparents of a Special Forces soldier who live in Lodi, who are so proud and so apprehensive as to what their grandson is going through in the hills of Afghanistan. There is a wife who gets a cold shiver on a hot day while her husband makes it to that helicopter at some bombed-out combat outpost in the desert of Afghanistan."
Peters lives in Elk Grove but is a member of the Lodi Elks Lodge. He gave a somewhat different perspective than what one usually hears at a Memorial Day ceremony.
He talked about the perks soldiers get as well — a half-day off duty, a holiday meal or barbecue, officers volunteering for mess hall duty that day.
The Woodbridge ceremony conducted by the Elks Lodge was one of six at ceremonies in the Lodi-Galt area.
At Cherokee Memorial Park in Lodi, Modesto resident Michael D. Anderson Sr. talked about the sacrifices his son, Michael Anderson Jr., and many others have given for their country. Michael Anderson Jr., a Marine corporal, was killed in the line of duty on Dec. 14, 2004 at the age of 21.
Michael Anderson Sr., told about his son kicking in a locked door in Fallujah, Iraq, when eight insurgents waited for him. He was killed instantly by a bullet wound to the heart.
Cherokee was lined by 10,000 American flags and included a dove release and the West Coast Ravens conducting a fly-by — with one plane missing to commemorate a soldier's death — and a roll call of 33 local combat veterans killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Other highlights on Monday:
- Addresses by Lodi City Councilman and former Assemblyman Alan Nakanishi, and Lodi American Legion veteran Bob Handel.
- A talk by Karl Welsbacher, a deacon at St. Anne's Catholic Church, at Harmony Grove Cemetery in Lockeford.
- An address by Rob Mertens at Glenview Cemetery in Clements.
- A ceremony at Galt Cemetery led by two keynote speakers, Galt Mayor Barbara Payne and retired Galt Fire chief Tim Mrozinski. Galt Police Sgt. Craig Walton, a representative of the Cosumnes Community Services District's fire department and Charles Marshall, of the Galt Veterans Association, also spoke.
Galt-area law enforcement officers, firefighters, military personnel and the city Public Works Department were honored for their service.
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at email@example.com.