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Crowd Gathers To Remember, Honor Those Who Sacrificed
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Flags, including the one lowered to half-staff on the flagpole at Burwood Cemetery, blow in the breeze on Monday morning, May 30 during a Memorial Day ceremony, as Taps was being played. Times Photo By Marg Jackson

A brisk breeze was blowing, keeping the flags flapping, as residents gathered for a Memorial Day ceremony at Burwood Cemetery on River Road, Monday morning, May 30.

Escalon American Legion Gustafson Thompson Post 263 hosted the ceremony, the first of three they would be putting on during the day. The Burwood gathering, said Post Commander Curtis Vaughn, is considered as the ‘main’ ceremony and featured guest speaker Pastor Bill Barnett.

He serves as pastor at Shelter Cove Community Church and is also the Chaplain for the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department.

Vaughn welcomed attendees to the event and then turned the podium over to Barnett.

“This day has a long history,” Barnett told the crowd assembled for the 10 a.m. ceremony on Monday.

Many sat in the chairs provided while others stood in groups under the shade of trees near the flagpole at the cemetery.

Originally known as Decoration Day, Barnett said it was given that name in the 1860s.

“Women would clean and decorate the graves of those lost in the Civil War,” he explained.

It became known as Memorial Day in 1971 and is a day set aside specifically to remember those who have given their lives in service to this country through the various branches of the military.

“It’s about more than the Indy 500, the mattress sales, it’s even more important than my barbecue ribs, which I love,” noted Barnett. “They aren’t Memorial Day; they are the result of Memorial Day.”

Barnett said today we can enjoy the freedom to have a barbecue, put a boat on the lake, watch a ball game on TV, do whatever we choose to celebrate the day that is considered the unofficial start of summer.

We can do all that and more, he said, “because of the sacrifices of those who have served and given their all.”

Barnett also said he was pleased to see several young people in attendance at the ceremony.

“Thank you, parents and grandparents, for bringing them so they understand the sacrifice,” Barnett said.

He ended his remarks with a prayer; a prayer that was turned in to a song: God Bless America. After reciting it, he asked all the young people attending to join him up front and then led the crowd in singing the well-known tune.

Following that, Post member Angelo Blanco placed a wreath for those lost and Gary Brenner performed the raising and lowering of the flag. The Honor Guard then provided a 21-gun salute and Taps was performed.

Legion members also planned to put on a service at St. John’s Cemetery adjacent to St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, followed by a service at Farmington Memorial Cemetery.

Small American flags were placed on the graves of service members at all three sites.

“We have about 1,100 here,” Vaughn said of the number at Burwood. “The grounds crew here did it for us and we checked to make sure they (veterans) all had one. There are about 600 at St. John’s and between 400 and 500 at Farmington.”

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Escalon American Legion Post 263 Commander Curtis Vaughn takes a moment following the Memorial Day ceremony to visit with Donna Davis of Escalon. Her husband, the late Jay Davis, served as the chaplain at Post 263 for many years. Times Photo By Marg Jackson