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Memorial Day Observances Highlight Soldiers Sacrifice
Members of the Escalon American Legion Gustafson Thompson Post 263 take aim as they prepare to begin the 21-gun salute on Monday, May 28 during Memorial Day ceremonies hosted at Burwood Cemetery in Escalon. Marg Jackson/The Times

In four separate locations on Monday, May 28, members of the Escalon American Legion Gustafson-Thompson Post 263 hosted Memorial Day services.

Each featured the laying of a wreath, the lowering of a flag to half-staff and a 21-gun salute.

Post chaplain Casey Den Ouden welcomed those on hand for the first of the services at Burwood Cemetery along River Road.

“We thank you for attending and remembering,” he said.

Other services during the day followed at St. John’s Cemetery adjacent to St. Patrick’s Church, the Farmington Memorial Park and Valley Home Memorial Park.

Guest speaker Bill Barnett, pastor of the Grace Community Church in Lathrop, started off the events at Burwood. The pastor said he has had many family members serve in the military, so it is a subject close to his heart. He also has worked many times with the local American Legion Post on military funerals and noted it was “an honor” to be involved with the group.

Barnett said it is a day that brings up many “emotions, thoughts and memories” as families gather to remember loved ones lost in battle. And while many took advantage of the day to celebrate with family barbecues or trips to the beach, Barnett said we must never forget those soldiers who stormed foreign beaches so we can continue to enjoy freedom.

“Today we remember the fallen,” Barnett said. “We know the values they had; we know the sacrifices they were willing to make.”

He added that we must never take for granted the freedom that was paid for with the lives of soldiers, and pointed out that “we still have soldiers in harm’s way” that need prayers and continued support.

“You also have a responsibility to teach, not just to remember,” he urged the crowd of making sure the next generation is made aware of the sacrifices. “We must teach about the price of freedom.”

In closing, Barnett offered the song ‘God Bless America’ and was joined by many of those in attendance.

Post members Richard Johnson and Gary Brenner then brought forward a wreath to place at the flagpole and conducted the raising and lowering of the flag to half-staff.

The 21-gun salute followed, along with the playing of Taps before the crowd was dismissed.