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Crowd assembles at Burwood for Memorial Day observance
Trio of gatherings
After the placing of a memorial wreath, the flag at Burwood Cemetery was lowered, raised and then brought back down to half-staff in recognition of service and sacrifice during Monday’s Memorial Day service, May 27. Marg Jackson/The Times

Under sunny skies, with a light breeze and the temperature climbing toward 70 degrees, a crowd gathered at Burwood Cemetery along River Road in Escalon for a Monday morning Memorial Day service, May 27.

Escalon American Legion Post 263 Chaplain Casey den Ouden welcomed the crowd for the 10 a.m. ceremony, thanking them for taking time out of their day to attend. He provided a brief overview of the order for the ceremony and offered an opening prayer, then noted that since last Memorial Day, four members of the local Legion Post have passed away, most recently William ‘Billy’ Bennett, who had long served in the Honor Guard and as the bugler, playing Taps at Legion events.

After a moment of silence, den Ouden introduced guest speaker Chaplain Chuck Roots, who served in the military both in the Marines and the Navy, active duty and reserves, for a total of 34 years.

Roots told the crowd it is important to remember that “we enjoy the freedoms we enjoy because of those who were willing to give up their lives so that our lives can be enriched.”

His topic for the ceremony was sacrifice, noting that it is fitting for Memorial Day.

“From the first shots fired at Bunker Hill in Massachusetts to the current challenges in the Middle East, American men and women have always stepped up to the fight,” Roots said. “Personal sacrifice has been the requirement.”

He went on to add that ‘sacrifice’ is defined as ‘to make sacred’ and basically means “to forfeit one thing for another thing considered to be of greater value.”

In that, Roots said American’s military men and women place more value on the lives of others than they do on their own, heading in to battle to protect the freedoms we enjoy, regardless of the cost.

“Our freedoms are worth protecting and defending, Roots said. “Our freedoms come at great cost; the blood of patriots has purchased our freedom.”

Finally, Roots encouraged those in attendance to share the message of sacrifice, passing it on to their children and grandchildren, to make sure the lives lost in preserving our freedoms were not lost in vain.

Following the remarks by Chaplain Roots, the Legion’s Honor Guard placed a memorial wreath at the flagpole, then conducted a flag lowering ceremony, bringing the flag down and then raising it again before lowering it down to half-staff. A rifle volley and Taps helped round out the roughly 25-minute ceremony.

It was the first of three Memorial Day services scheduled for the Legion members on Monday, as they also traveled to St. John’s Cemetery, adjacent to St Patrick’s Church at Highway 120 and Carrolton Road, for an 11 a.m. service and then had their final observance of the day at noon, hosted at Farmington Cemetery along Escalon-Bellota Road.

Roots speak
Pastor Chuck Roots served as keynote speaker for the Memorial Day service at Burwood Cemetery along River Road in Escalon at 10 a.m. Monday, May 27, encouraging attendees to remember the sacrifices of military service members and their families. Marg Jackson/The Times