While other countries go to war primarily to acquire more land, American soldiers risk their lives to save other countries, a Ripon pastor and retired Naval officer told more than 700 people gathered for a Memorial Day service on Monday at Cherokee Memorial Park.
"We have been accused of being imperialistic, but have we?" Dr. Charles R. Roots, pastor of Free Methodist Church in Ripon and retired Naval officer, asked rhetorically. "Most countries want to expand empires. The U.S. wants to defeat nations and rebuild them from the ground up."
The service was one of several in the Lodi area to honor those who risked their lives, some of whom gave the ultimate sacrifice.
In addition to the Cherokee service, observances were held at Lodi Memorial Cemetery, the Masonic Cemetery in Woodbridge, the historical Harmony Grove Church and Cemetery in Lockeford, Glenview Cemetery in Clements, and Galt Cemetery on Joy Drive.
In his remarks, Roots, the guest speaker at the Cherokee service, said that the need to risk your life goes back to the original sin that began with Adam and Eve.
Furthermore, Roots defined the gift of sacrifice — especially those willing to put themselves in harm's way — as considering their lives less valuable lives than those they are saving.
The Cherokee service, typically the largest held in the Lodi area on Memorial Day, included presentations by the Lodi American Legion, the Lockeford Veterans of Foreign Wars post, the Karl Ross American Legion post from Stockton, and Associate Pastor Chris Seibert's return to the Lodi area for one day.
Seibert, who served at Calvary Bible Church in Acampo for several years, is now an associate pastor at Crossroads Church in Turlock. Known for his voice, Seibert sang the national anthem and "God Bless the USA."
In other local services, Lodi City Councilman Alan Nakanishi was the guest speaker at Lodi Memorial Cemetery. Bob Clemons provided a bagpipe medley, and Lee Mulford sang.
In Woodbridge, Lewis J. Grillo, past grand exalted ruler of the Lodi Elks Lodge, was the guest speaker at Monday's service at the Masonic Cemetery on Lower Sacramento Road.
In Galt, Mayor Barbara Payne and Sacramento County Supervisor Don Nottoli were the guest speakers, and in Lockeford, the Boy Scouts and Lockeford VFW conducted the program at historic Harmony Grove Church.
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at firstname.lastname@example.org.