Memorial Service Speaker:
Bear in Mind the Sacrifices of Military Families
On a day when some 600 San Diegans gathered at Miramar National Cemetery to reflect on the men and women who have served our country, Maj. Gen. Joseph M. Martin asked those assembled also to bear in mind the sacrifices made by members of their families.
“In every war in our history, it is often those left behind who struggle to understand the loss of their loved ones,” said Martin, commanding General of the Army’s National Training Center and Fort Irwin, Calif., and featured speaker during the fifth annual Veterans Memorial Service.
He related the s
tories of two California brothers, David and Philip Gonzales, who were killed in battle – David, who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in World War II, and Philip who was killed by hostile fire during the Korean War.
“When a young man or woman takes the oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, they are not serving alone,” Martin declared. “The families of those soldiers also serve. They are affected by every duty assignment and every deployment.”
As a result of the death of her two sons in combat, Martin noted, Rita Maldonado Gonzales Duarte was twice designated a Gold Star Mother.
“For those like David and Philip, who never made it back home, we must continue to live our lives and serve in their honor,” Martin said. “We, who are the heirs of their legacy, must always be the guardians of their dreams and the guarantors of the security of the same nation they swore to defend.”
The Miramar National Cemetery Support Foundation sponsors the Veterans Memorial Service, each year, on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend.
In his remarks, Support Foundation President & CEO Dennis Schoville asked members of the audience to remember, “That the servicemen and women interred here in our Garden of Heroes were willing to give their all for our country, their families, and the security and safety of our fellow citizens. Many of those who rest here, in fact, gave their lives!”
Many veterans attended
Also in the audience at this year’s service were many veterans of World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, and their families. Former Army Specialist 4 John Baca, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in Vietnam, also attended.
This year’s event included patriotic music by the Army National Guard’s 40th Infantry Division Band, under the direction of Chief Warrant Officer Eric Sugunamu, and addresses by Cemetery Director Rex Kern, and Ed Berger, San Diego County’s 2015 Veteran of the Year. Ralph Kling of the American Ex-Prisoners of War led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Kern asked the audience to “pay tribute to the men and women in uniform who have served our country so faithfully from the American Revolution to today’s war on terrorism.”
In his talk, Berger called for a moment of silence for Chief Special Warfare Operator Charles Keating, a Navy SEAL who was killed May 3, 2016, by Islamic State militants during the rescue of U.S. military advisors in Iraq.
Some may idolize sports figures or entertainers, even fictional characters like Superman as heroes, said Berger, a retired Navy chief warrant officer. “The real heroes are those who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our country. The real heroes…wore dog tags.”
By Bill Heard
Public Information Officer
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