Santa Paula Times

Albino Pineda (above left), keynote speaker at the Memorial Day program held at the Santa Paula Cemetery, spoke of the efforts of those who have served in the military over the years and the challenges our country faces today. (Above right) Members of the Korean War Veterans Association listen to Al Pineda. The Memorial Day program was held at the Santa Paula Cemetery. Photo by Don Johnson

Memorial Day program salutes those that have fallen

June 01, 2007
VFW tradition brings crowd to SP Cemetery
Santa Paula News
By Peggy Kelly Santa Paula TimesAmerican flags were waving throughout historic Santa Paula Cemetery, the final resting place of many of those who gave their lives for their country as well as numerous veterans of wars fought throughout the nation’s history, silent witnesses to Monday’s Mercer-Prieto Post 2043 Veterans of Foreign Wars Memorial Day Service.The Memorial Day Service, a community tradition, was held at the historic Grand Army of the Republic monument.With the Santa Paula Union High School Band playing patriotic music and the dozens of flags decorating the cemetery, “It always reminds me of a Norman Rockwell cover” depicting Americana said Cathy Barringer.Dr. Roger Strange and his wife Pam were seated near the podium: “I started attending the Memorial Day service when I was a student at Isbell Middle School...I’ve come every year since,” including later duty playing for the event while a member of the SPUHS Band, said Roger.After Roger described how late Bugler Sam Solace would play “Taps” echoed by an unseen second bugler hidden in then undeveloped cemetery property, Pam Strange sighed “I love Santa Paula...”Cemetery General Manager Hap Cummings told the crowd that small flags were available for gravesite memorials and he thanked those that had also helped create the patriotic setting.VFW Post Commander Jack B. Schneider told a poignant story of sacrifice by a National Guardsman with a fondness of children living in the Iraqi war zone who attempted to ease their suffering before his own death.More than 1 million Americans have been killed in generations of war, “died so we can continue to cherish the things they love” and who were willing to die for on behalf of themselves and all Americans. “Let’s remember them not just today, but every day...”Post Chaplain John Bailey asked that “we honor our fallen comrades, we can walk with them no more...”“We happen to be in one of the most beautiful settings” in the river valley noted featured speaker Albino Pineda, a city resident since 1942.
Pineda volunteered and was assigned to the 261st Field Artillery Battalion, in 1944 attached to the 9th US Army that fought in Germany until the end of the war...he was awarded two Battle Stars before being honorably discharged in 1945.Pineda said all were paying tribute to the “men and women who defend our lives and freedom” and detailed war losses throughout the centuries including “those Missing in Action are still with us in spirit.”Families and their loved ones attending the service are “here to honor” those lost in war, he noted, but “not to honor war.”Pineda said that war should become an “obsolete tool” for settling differences, “should be fought at the negotiation table instead of” on the battlefield.With a strong family military legacy including a grandson soon to serve his third tour of duty in Iraq, “the third generation serving our country” and other relatives lost to war “this gives me a good reason to question the validity” of the Iraqi conflict said Pineda.Those who fight for America display loyalty to the Constitution, duty, respect, honor, integrity and personal courage among other attributes and Pineda said the country must better treat those veterans “who have given our country a proud legacy” upon their return from war.After Pineda’s address the Placing of the Wreaths was conducted...the Salute to Departed Comrades by VFW Post 2043 and KWVA Chapter 56 Rifle Squad proceeded Bugler Rudy Arellano of the Korean War Veterans Association Chapter 56 closing the service with “Taps.”Also “there’s something new this year,” said Commander Schneider as Alex Garcia released about a dozen doves that soared above the cemetery and the appreciative crowd of those who will never forget.