Under bright sunny skies on Monday, May 27 the Escalon American Legion Post and American Legion Riders hosted a series of Memorial Day services throughout the region.
Crowds were on hand for the ceremonies, designed to recognize those who have served this country and honor and remember those who have given the ultimate sacrifice.
The day began with a 10 a.m. service at Burwood Cemetery on River Road, followed by events at St. John’s Cemetery on Carrolton Road, just off Highway 120, then at Farmington Memorial Park on Escalon-Bellota Road and a final program at Valley Home Memorial Park on Lone Tree Road.
Post 263 Commander Curtis Vaughn and Chaplain Casey Den Ouden welcomed the crowd to Burwood Cemetery and Den Ouden noted that the post has lost three members since last Memorial Day, while the community of Escalon has also lost several military veterans, 13 total, during the year.
“We thank them for their service,” Den Ouden said.
Guest Speaker for the service was Pastor Henry Raven of Sierra Foothills Community Church of Oakdale, who provided a brief history of Memorial Day, noting that it was originally Decoration Day but renamed Memorial Day in 1967 and became a federal holiday in 1971.
He noted the loss of service members in a number of wars; from 620,000 in the American Civil War; 116,516 in World War I; 405,399 in World War II; 54,246 in Korea; 58,220 in Vietnam; 383 in the Gulf War; and 6,607 in Afghanistan.
“Sacrifice is a word that fits the picture I’m trying to paint here,” Raven said. “Freedom is not free.”
The ceremony also featured the laying of a memorial wreath, the lowering of the flag and raising it to half-staff, a 21-gun salute and the playing of Taps.
“It is a privilege and pleasure to be here,” Raven added. “We have a responsibility to remember those who have given all.”
Small American flags decorated the graves of veterans buried in Burwood and at all the other cemeteries where services took place.