Flags whipped in the cool morning breeze on Monday, May 25 as dozens gathered at Burwood Cemetery on River Road to pay their respects to the nation’s military. Several longtime members of the Escalon American Legion were especially honored for their service, including Jay Davis, Paul Dismukes, Albert Johnson, Bob Mangini and Ralph Verschoor.
Whether attendees were remembering a service member lost or honoring the service of one who came home or one who is on active duty now, the ceremony included a message of thanks and hope. Keynote speaker was Rev. Bill Barnett of Grace Community Church in Lathrop.
Barnett said when services like the Memorial Day remembrance at Burwood bring people together, it “becomes easy for us to remember” why we are there – that the idea is to honor and recognize the services rendered and, in many cases, the sacrifices made.
And he said those enjoying the day at a lake, at the beach, shopping or barbecuing, have the nation’s military to thank for the privilege of being able to do what they wanted to do to observe the holiday.
Admitting to being a “Navy brat” himself, Barnett said he often works with members of the Escalon American Legion Gustafson-Thompson Post and the Legion Riders group for military funerals and said it was an honor and a privilege to work with them. The Escalon post hosted the Monday morning services, and the post includes members from Escalon, Riverbank, Oakdale and beyond.
“This should ignite our gratitude for the price paid by soldiers and their families,” Barnett said of observing the day with the brief but heartfelt ceremony.
He also praised the work of today’s soldiers, who he said are helping to rebuild cities and governments around the world.
“They give hope to future generations,” he said.
A 21-gun salute followed the keynote speaker, then the playing of Taps while the crowd stood at attention.
Along with the flags displayed at the ceremony, several small American flags were placed on the graves of veterans buried at Burwood and full size flags also lined the downtown area in Escalon for the holiday.
The Burwood gathering was the first of three services the local Legion members helped coordinate – the other two were at St. John’s Catholic Cemetery at Highway 120 and Carrolton Road at 11 a.m. and the final one for the day was at the Farmington Cemetery on Escalon-Bellota Road, with that service at noon.