VFW, KWVA will
present traditional
S.P. remembrance

May 21, 2014
Santa Paula News

No one is quite sure when Decoration Day got its start, because the practice of decorating soldiers’ graves with flowers is an ancient custom. In the United States, soldiers’ graves were decorated before and during the Civil War. In 1906 a claim was made that the first Civil War soldier’s grave ever decorated was in Warrenton, Virginia, on June 3, 1861, implying the first Decoration Day occurred there. There is documentation that women in Savannah, Georgia, decorated Confederate soldiers’ graves in 1862. 

In 1863, the cemetery dedication at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, was a ceremony of commemoration at the graves of dead soldiers both Confederate and Union who had died together on the battlefield of the Civil War’s most notorious clash. Local historians in Boalsburg, Pennsylvania, claim that ladies there decorated soldiers’ graves on July 4, 1864 and, as a result, the city promotes itself as the birthplace of Decoration Day, now better known as Memorial Day.

On Monday, May 26, the annual Memorial Day Ceremony will be conducted by Santa Paula’s Mercer-Prieto Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2043 and the Korean War Veterans Association Chapter 56 of Ventura County.

The ceremony will be held at 10:30 a.m. at the Santa Paula Pierce Brothers Cemetery, located at 380 Cemetery Road, where area scouts and other youth groups will place flags throughout the cemetery to mark the day of remembrance for those who died while serving our country.

The ceremony is held each year by the Grand Army of the Republic Monument.

Many people attend the traditional community event and VFW Post Commander Jerry Olivas notes that seating is limited, so he urges those who attend to bring a folding chair.

And come early: a patriotic musical prelude by the Isbell Middle School Band, directed by Scott Kneff, will be from 10:15 to 10:30 a.m. The band will also perform the National Anthem during the ceremony.

After introductions and a welcome by Commander Olivas, Father Charles Lueras of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church will offer the innovation.

Commander Olivas will offer remarks on the meaning of Memorial Day before the Placement of Wreaths directed by Post Quartermaster/Adjutant Rey Frutos.

Olivas noted, “The placement of the wreaths is a yearly community event which is participated in by both civic organizations and Santa Paula residents to remember and to honor their loved ones who died during wartime.”

Those with wreaths are escorted to the GAR Monument where the floral tributes are placed.

Soloist Lisa Harvey will sing “God Bless America” and VFW 2043 member Carlos Lopez will present the Veterans’ Poem: “Freedom is not Free.”  

Dr. George Golden, Pastor of Fillmore’s First Baptist Church, will lead the Closing Prayer followed by “America the Beautiful” sung by Harvey.

Jerry Garcia’s Heavenly Doves will be released and the Combined VFW and KWVA Chapter 56 Rifle Squad, directed by KWVA Commander David Garcia will offer the Rifle Salute.

“Taps” by bugler Rudy Arellano will conclude the Memorial Day program.

The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) was a fraternal organization composed of veterans of the Union Army, US Navy, Marines and Revenue Cutter Service who served in the American Civil War. Founded in 1866 in Decatur, Illinois, it was dissolved in 1956 when its last member died.

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