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Lodi-area residents, veterans, local leaders honor soldiers who gave their lives

Lodi-area residents, veterans and local leaders turned out Monday to honor soldiers who gave their lives

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Posted: Tuesday, May 28, 2013 12:00 am

Memorial Day is a time to remember soldiers who have given the ultimate sacrifice, but Monday’s ceremony in Clements had a little twist — a replica of an 1841 cannon boomed through Glenview Cemetery to honor veterans who were killed defending their country.

Retired Lodi Police Officer Harry Webb, wearing a private sack coat from the Union Army, fired the cannon at the end of the ceremony, hosted by the Lockeford Veterans of Foreign Wars.

“Not one of our comrades’ lives has been lost in vain,” VFW Commander Tyrone Wise said to the approximately 50 people assembled at the cemetery on Mackville Road.

The ceremony also featured a history of Memorial Day by Pastor Ron Martens of Clements Community Church, who spoke about how important it is to observe the holiday.

“A lot of Americans have forgotten the meaning of Memorial Day,” said Martens, decked out in a cowboy jacket, cowboy hat and blue jeans. “A lot of people think it’s a day for barbecues and shopping.”

One of the most faithful attendees of the Clements Memorial Day service is Leah (Bamert) Hasseltine, who will turn 100 in December. Hasseltine has attended the ceremony at Glenview since the first one, believed to be in the 1960s.

She grew up seven miles from the cemetery and went to a one-room schoolhouse that had a single teacher for the 17 students from first through eighth grades. Hasseltine said she took a horse and cart to school during good weather, and a horse and buggy when it rained. She is a 1931 Lodi High graduate.

Hasseltine was married 54 years to her husband, Howard, a vintner. He died 22 years ago.

Rick Caccam, vice commander from the Karl Ross American Legion Post in Stockton, played “Taps” to end the ceremony. Caccam has the distinction of being invited to play “Taps” at Arlington National Cemetery in 2012.

The Memorial Day service in Clements was one of six to be held locally. Two ceremonies were held in Lodi and one each in Woodbridge, Lockeford and Galt.

Col. Louis E. Carmona, head of the Army, Aviation and Safety Office for the California National Guard, gave the keynote address at Lodi Memorial Cemetery. U.S. Army veteran Mike E. Dillman was the guest speaker at a service at Cherokee Memorial Park; Gilbert Woehl, a prisoner of war from World War II, was the special guest at Woodbridge Masonic Cemetery; Karl Welsbacher, a deacon at Lodi’s St. Anne’s Catholic Church, gave the keynote address at Lockeford’s historic Harmony Grove Church and Cemetery; and in Galt, Mayor Marylou Powers and City Councilwoman Barbara Payne gave speeches.

Former Lodi resident Martha Ellwanger, 94, a Navy Nurse Corps veteran from World War II, attended the Woodbridge ceremony. And U.S. Army veteran Sgt. 1st Class Roberta Costello, also a WWII vet, attended the ceremony at Cherokee Memorial Park, along with her grandson, Army Staff Sgt. Jeffery Hawley.

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

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