Honor a Hero: Bay Area Memorial Day observances planned

View Original Notice ? Honor a Hero: Bay Area Memorial Day observances planned

Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer, but it’s also the day when a grateful nation takes time to honor the men and women who gave their lives in service to the United States.

Observances will be held throughout the Bay Area on May 28, with San Jose’s Oak Hill Memorial Park holding four memorials.

There are more than 14,000 veterans buried at Oak Hill and an estimated 5,000 people are expected to come out to honor them.

The day starts at 10 a.m. with a service for Japanese Americans who have served in the Armed Forces, followed by the main ceremony at 11 a.m. At 1:15 p.m., there’s a memorial for Civil War and Spanish-American War descendants, while Vietnam’s war dead are remembered during a 2:15 p.m. ceremony.

The sheer size of the event requires bleachers to be brought in for seating, a small veterans’ resource fair will also be held and free hot dogs are barbecued for everyone.

“We’ll have three tanks on display, a fighter jet from the Korean War and five or six World War I-era classic cars,” said Oak Hill General Manager Rob Wallinger. “At 11 a.m., a fully restored Huey helicopter will fly in and land. It’s a pretty big deal.”

Also look for members of the National Montford Point Marine Association.

“They were the first African Americans in the Marine Corps and served during World War II,” Wallinger said. “They’re not as well known as the Tuskegee Airmen, but they all received the Congressional Medal of Honor.”

Oak Hill Memorial Park is at 300 Curtner Ave., San Jose.

The Presidio in San Francisco is hosting a series of events Monday, including the 150th anniversary formal ceremony at 11 a.m. at the San Francisco National Cemetery, where the 1 million Americans killed while serving in the U.S. armed forces will be honored.

Visit the Presidio website for the complete schedule of events.

The USS Hornet Museum in Alameda will hold its annual ceremony at 11 a.m. on the hangar deck. The ceremony will last about 30 minutes and be followed by a wreath toss off the fantail. Following the ceremony, there will be various activities, meet-and-greet with veterans and tours available. Visit the USS Hornet website for more information.

As many as 1,000 people are expected for an 11 a.m. memorial and outdoor mass at Gate of Heaven Cemetery, 22555 Cristo Rey Drive, Los Altos.

“It’s beautifully done,” Air Force veteran Bill Miklos said. “The colors are presented by members of the military services, we have speakers and a bugler plays taps.”

Miklos, whose 13 years of service began toward the end of the Vietnam War, is commander of Los Altos American Legion Post 558.

Gunnery Sergeant Denny Weisgerber, who served in Korea, is scheduled to speak 3 p.m. at the Santa Clara Veterans Memorial in Central Park, 909 Kiely Blvd.

The Santa Clara observance includes a performance by Cupertino’s Symphonic Band and a wreath-laying ceremony.

In Campbell, some 400 volunteers recently finished laying a new handicapped accessible walkway with pavers and bricks that lead to the memorial’s centerpiece of flags. Here, the U.S. flag is flanked by the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine flags.

Many of the memorial’s pavers and bricks have been purchased by families and inscribed with veterans’ names.

Campbell’s Memorial Day observance is from 9 to 10 a.m. at the Orchard City Green, 70 N. First St. The Del Mar High School Band is set to perform, and speakers include retired colonel and former Mayor Dan Furtado.

This year marks Saratoga’s 90th Memorial Day observance, with a 9:30 a.m. flag-raising at the Memorial Arch, corner of Saratoga Avenue and Big Basin Way. Participants will then form a procession and walk to nearby Madronia Cemetery, where approximately 1,000 American flags will decorate veterans’ graves.

Los Gatos Memorial Park, 2255 Los Gatos Almaden Road, honors veterans beginning at 11 a.m. Highlights of this service include a performance by the 50-piece San Jose Metropolitan Band, plus free coffee, donuts, hot dogs and sodas.

“Between 800 and 900 people come to the service, and we’ll have chairs and canopies for everyone, so they’re not sitting in the hot sun,” said Managing Partner Nicholas Wellzenbach. “We have three Pearl Harbor survivors who are coming and they’ll help us unveil our bronze eagle that fell last year — it’s been remounted and now veterans can be laid to rest beneath it.”

An estimated 1,300 veterans are buried at Los Gatos Memorial Park.

The Mountain View Veterans Memorial observance is from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. at Eagle Park, 650 Franklin St., where family members of service men and women killed in action will participate in a wreath-laying ceremony.

When people arrive, the American flag will be flying at half staff, organizer Cindy Newman said, honoring the service and sacrifice of the fallen.

“The ceremony concludes with the raising of the flag to full staff to show the nation still stands,” she said. “Then we’ll invite the public to lay red paper poppies on the memorial.”

Red poppies are a symbol of World War I. According to Smithsonian Magazine, poppy seeds can lay dormant in the ground for decades. But when the soil on Europe’s Western front was churned up by trenches and bombs, the dormant seeds began blooming, blanketing places like the Flanders Field American Cemetery in Belgium.

The famous 1915 poem, “In Flanders Fields,” is based on the poppy phenomenon. “In Flanders fields the poppies blow, between the crosses, row on row,” the poem says.

Red poppies will be front and center Memorial Day Saturday and Sunday at the Los Altos History Museum’s photography exhibit “Over Here: Americans at Home in World War I.”  Activities include costumed portrayals of two World War I African American war heroes and a paper poppy-making session for children. The museum is at 51 S. San Antonio Road, admission is free. Visit losaltoshistory.org for the events schedule.


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View Original Notice ? Honor a Hero: Bay Area Memorial Day observances planned