A crowd of 600 gather at Oak View Memorial Park for Antioch's 2011 Memorial Day ceremonies
“Honor, Respect and Remembrance”
By Allen Payton, Publisher
On a sunny day with a cool breeze, under a cloudy sky, Antioch and East County officials and residents gathered at the
Brynna Finley sings the National Anthem. photo by Karen Reano-Finley
Oak View Memorial Park to honor those who fought and died for our freedom during the annual Memorial Day ceremonies.
Labeled the Antioch Memorial Thunder, official ceremonies began with the roaring arrival of a 100 motorcycle procession of military veterans escorted by Antioch Police from Antioch City Hall.
Officials in attendance were Antioch Mayor Jim Davis, Mayor Pro Tem Wade Harper, Councilman Gary Agopian, Antioch School Board Trustee Walter Ruehlig and Oakley Mayor Jim Frazier.
It included a 45-minute musical tribute by the Temple Hill Choir and ended with a rare, in public, flag retirement ceremony, with the proper disposal of a tattered flag by burning, and a 21-gun salute.
Procession to the 9-11 Monument and Veterans Memorials led by bagpiper Bryan Reynolds and 483rd Army Reserve Transportation Battalion Honor Guard
Led and coordinated by Mayor Davis with the help of members of the local veterans organizations, this year marked the 12th year in a row that residents gathered at Oak View on East 18th Street in Antioch.
“We started with 12 of us standing around the flagpole,” Davis said. “This year we have about 600 [people in attendance].”
The invocation was offered by American Legion Chaplain Michael Geltz followed by bagpiper Bryan Reynolds playing “When the Battle’s O’re.”
The day featured a variety of speaker, with VFW 6435 Post Commander Henri Veilieux focusing on recent events.
“It took us 10 years to get Bin Laden,” Veilieux stated. “But we got him” to the cheers of the audience, dressed in patriotic attire.
The next speaker was the most inspirational, former Navy man Chuck Kohler, a Pearl
Harbor survivor. He gave “honor, respect and remembrance to all those through the years who have sacrificed for our freedom and liberties.”
He quoted the book of John, chapter 14 verse 13 from the Bible, “Greater love hath
Pearl Harbor survivor Chuck Kohler
no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”
Kohler spoke of the “most drastic event in the history of the U.S. Navy,” the attack on Pearl Harbor.
“It is my privilege to pay honor and respect to the 2,405 individuals who because of that event were not able to be with us for over 69 years past,” he stated. “And another 80,000 who survived that event but have since passed on.”
He spoke of the 1,177 sailor that went down with the U.S.S. Arizona and encouraged the audience, when in Honolulu, to visit the memorial, there.
“If you listen not with your ears, but with your heart, you will hear the voices of all who are still entombed in that ship at the bottom of the harbor as they speak in one voice ‘remember us, remember us.’”
The next speake was Lt. Colonel McLaughlin of the U.S. Army Reserve 483rd Transportation Battalion, which Antioch has adopted as its own. He thanked those who served and are currently serving in the military.
Honor Wall replicas are unveiled
Another speaker was Operation Iraqi Freedom war veteran Maurice Dellmer, a representative from Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla’s office. He spoke of his experiences with PTSD – post traumatic stress disorder and the help he received from the VA in his transition back to civilian life.
The Wall of Honor, replicas of the World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War memorials in Washington, D.C. wereuncovered by veterans Terry Andreasen, Duane Colvin and Dick Lamb, followed by the beautifully sung “America the Beautiful” by 13-year-old Brynna Autumn Finley, of Vallejo, who opened the ceremony with the National Anthem. She is the niece of Antioch residents Joe and Lesli Reano.
Mayor Davis was then joined by Major Eldon Strand and the Honor
Laying of the wreath and rose
Guard of the Army Reserve 483rd Transportation Battalion, in the placing of a rose on the 9-11 Monument and laying a wreath on the Veterans Memorial at the park. The procession was led by bagpiper Reynolds playing “Amazing Grace.”
That was followed by the dove release, then the retirement of the flag that covered a casket of a World War II veteran. The flag had flown in his family’s yard for years, but had become tattered and U.S. Code requires the proper treatment and respect of our flag, and that includes disposal by burning. The crowd stood and gave the Pledge of Allegiance to the old flag, then quietly watched as members of Boy Scouts Pack 251 led the solemn ceremony.
Two buglers concluded the ceremonies with the playing of Taps.
Boy Scouts retire a tattered flag