Yucaipa Valley’s fallen remembered on Memorial Day

Written by Bob on May 31st, 2010

About 300 attended the Memorial Day Service at Desert Lawn Memorial Park in Calimesa.
Photos By BOB OTTO

“I feel fortunate to be alive while others have died,” – Ray Duncan, Marine Corps veteran

CALIMESA, CA – Some chose to spend Memorial Day barbequing in the back yard. Some spent the day at the beach. And some spent the day lounging in front of the television watching a baseball game.

But about 300 grateful and patriotic Calimesa and Yucaipa residents chose instead to spend about an hour at Desert Lawn Memorial Park for a Memorial Day Service to honor America’s veterans who died on the battlefield to safeguard our country’s freedoms.

Ray Duncan, 70, spent 10 years in the Marine Corps. He served in Korea and he served a tour of duty in Vietnam. He says he’s one of the lucky ones, who returned home to live the good life in Yucaipa.

“I feel fortunate to be alive while others have died,” Duncan said. And it irritates Duncan that despite the ultimate sacrifice American service men and women have made to protect America’s freedoms, there was just a modest turnout for the memorial service.

“It makes me mad at those that don’t appreciate what some gave for our country,” he said.

The ceremony featured several solemn tributes to veterans including a flyover by an Air Force C-17, Globemaster III, Posting of the Colors by the Yucaipa High School Air Force R.O.T.C. Color Guard, a Roll Call of the Dead, and Echoing Taps, along with several speakers honoring the fallen.

Calimesa Councilmember, Ray Quinto, joined the Marine Corps and served two tours in Vietnam. He told of a fellow Marine, who was killed while on guard duty. He was the first to die in Quinto’s unit.

“He answered the call and never made it back home,” Quinto said. “That’s the reason we celebrate this day. This is a special day for Americans throughout the U.S. (observing) this day on hallowed ground like Desert Lawn.”

Quinto added that Americans should not only remember the fallen, but also reach out and thank the young men and women serving today.

“We need to thank veterans every day throughout the year for the service they’ve given us and the freedoms we enjoy,” Quinto said.

The Roll Call of The Dead was especially moving. As names were read off of the 28 veterans from the Yucaipa Valley, who died in combat, a gold bell was rung. Heads lowered and eyes moistened as familiar names were announced.

“This is a day to become sentimental and patriotic,” said Yucaipa Mayor, Dick Riddell, who served in the Navy during World War II. “It’s a day to reflect upon what a great life we have in the U.S. because of those who have responded.”

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