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It all came together Allison K. Sampite | Sat, Jun 04 2011 12:00 PM

It was a scenario that was well planned and well executed. It was like an old Navy friend of mine used to say, "just like a well-oiled machine."

I am referring to the Memorial Day ceremony last Monday morning over at Glen Abbey. It seemed like everything fell into place just as the planners envisioned.

The grounds in the vicinity of the Chapel of the Roses were well manicured, the rose bushes did their thing with blossoms in full bloom, and the event site was set up perfectly. Even the weather which sometimes acts rather quirky this time of year was near perfect, sunshine and blue skies from end to end.

Full credit for this ceremony must go to Ronda Thompson from Glen Abbey, and the Chula Vista branch of the Fleet Reserve, principally in the persons of Gus Hermes who was the master of ceremonies and his wife GiGi who did introductions.

A few hundred folks sat in the white chairs put out for the occasion to hear music by Judy Johnson, that included the national anthem, remarks by Sean Bulthuis, the general manager at Glen Abbey, and an address by guest speaker Commander Daniel Gramins, a U.S. Navy physician. It was indeed, an awe-inspiring and spirited program.

While we observed and listened to the remarks at the program we thought a bit about Memorial Day.

We observe a number of national holidays in our country, holidays that honor individual persons in our history or events that shaped the nation.

Probably the most revered, and by consensus the most important is the Declaration of Independence Day, known simply as the Fourth of July. Without that one there would, of course, be no nation.

But, in retrospect, it is almost inevitable that that day would have come around if not on the Fourth of July, then sometime shortly thereafter. The founding fathers were determined that the time had come for independence and they were going to make their move. So independence was declared by inking a few words on paper.

With all that in mind we might muse about how we sustained that independence. Was it just there for the taking? We know it wasn't. This, sadly, was not by ink but by spilling blood. It was by fighting for it. And when you fight for something by going to war there are people that are going to die. And over the past 235 years we have had many people die. Casualties, they call it, lives that are lost and changed by acts of hostilities.

So we come back to Memorial Day. This, as every American knows, or, at least, should know, is the day that we honor the nation's dead who fought for it.

The ceremony the other day was just a small part of this homage. As I walked out to the parking lot the cemetery grounds were full of people amid the plethora of grave sites, putting wreaths, bouquets of flowers and little flags near headstones that said that this individual gave it his all.

All this put an indelible mark on the day, a day that reminds us of brave men and women.

In the long run perhaps it is not fair to put an importance category on our holidays. There could be someone among us, for example, who has a high regard for George Washington or Abraham Lincoln and think that their holidays should wear the mantle of most important. And who are we to deny them?

The powers that be, in their infinite wisdom, have skewered the dates of some of our national holidays to give us long weekends, watering down, at least in my opinion, the meaning of the day.

Washington was born on the 22nd and Lincoln on the 14th and these dates are etched in stone.

Changing them was a major mistake but it was done.

In any event we are thankful for units like the Fleet Reserve and venues like Glen Abbey that observe Memorial Day in a meaningful manner.

And we are, naturally, most thankful that we are still able to attend them.

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