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Honoring the fallen
American Legion Post No. 34 Commander Dan Gupton acknowledged the sacrifice of veterans, who were remembered in this country and abroad on Monday.
In Willows, more than 1,000 miniature American flags were placed on the graves of veterans this Memorial Day, and 250 donated casket flags fluttered in the breeze.
"There are thousands of ceremonies like this one across the country," Gupton said. "From Willows to Arlington, those who died are not forgotten."
All fought for freedoms Americans hold dear, said Willows Police Chief and former Marine Bill Spears.
Spears spoke about the honor, courage, devotion, love of community and love of country that is embodied in each branch of the service, and the freedom for which they continue to fight.
"Freedom is like building a structure," he said. "The foundation must be strong in order for the structure to stand."
Still, Gupton said he would have liked to see more people at the Willows Cemetery on Monday.
The solemn ceremony to honor veterans — and the sacrifices they made for freedom — was fairly well attended, but lacked attendance by local officials and government workers, many of whom considered the three-day Memorial Day weekend the unofficial start to summer activities.
Veteran and Willows Mayor Vince Holvik did attend, as did Superior Court Judge Donald Byrd. Glenn County Sheriff Larry Jones and Probation Chief Brandon Thompson attended the ceremony in Orland.
Keeping with American Memorial Day traditions, miniature American and French flags were placed on the 2,289 graves of mostly fallen U.S. Marines at Aisne-Marne American Memorial Cemetery in Belleau Wood, France, to mark the 95th anniversary of the World War I battle.
More than 4,000 people attended the annual ceremony.
Gupton said there are many U.S. servicemen buried in Europe that were remembered on Memorial Day, including President Theodore Roosevelt's youngest son Quentin Roosevelt, who was shot down behind enemy lines in World War I, and Roosevelt's eldest son Ted Roosevelt, who died of a heart attack while serving in France during World War II.
The two Roosevelt brothers are buried side-by-side in Normandy American Cemetery.
Many at Monday's gathering said they yearned for the good old days, when Memorial Day was May 30, before it was moved in 1968 to the last Monday of the month to create a three-day federal holiday.
"Aren't our veterans worth one day to stay home and honor them?" Gupton questioned.
Praise was given to the few young people who attended the ceremony, and the entertainment, which was a draw for many people.
Willows Boys Scouts Troop No. 57 retired one American Flag, the Re-enactors of the American Civil War performed the 21-gun salute and the Willows High School band performed three patriotic selections.
"This is a way to help out in the community" said senior Steve Yang, 18, who has performed with the Willows High School band on Memorial Day all four years of school. "Playing for the people is great. It's wonderful, and it really means a lot to me."
For many attending Monday's ceremony, Memorial Day was also a time to remember their own loved ones.
Amanda Brown, 8, has come to the Memorial Day ceremony every year with mother, Kathleen Brown, grandmother Karen Brown and great-grandmother Barbara Kindser, all of Willows.
"It is a way to respect the people who died for us," Amanda said.
The family placed flowers on the grave of Amanda's great-great-grandfather Percy Ray Main (1899-1965), a young soldier who served only six months during World War I before the war ended.
He served in New Hampshire, saw no combat, but was nevertheless a true American hero.
"By the time World War II started, my dad had five children and was too old to enlist," Kindser said. "So what he did was give blood. He continued to give blood up until age 60, which was the age cut off at that time."
Monday's Memorial Day ceremony included a performance by Pastor Eugene Huffman.
The Rev. Ted Crandell performed the invocation and benediction.
Barbara La Doucer, American Legion Auxiliary Unit No. 98, laid a ceremonial wreath by the cemetery's main flag to honor the unknown soldier.
Tyler Fisher performed "Taps."