Rancho Cordova Pays Tribute to The Fallen

Rancho Cordova, CA  |  By Shelly Blanchard, Cordova Community Council
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Families, friends and neighbors came out to honor those who gave their lives for our nation. Photo by Rick Sloan

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Remembering all those who came before us in conflicts and wars past. Photo by Rick Sloan

RANCHO CORDOVA, CA (MPG) - An audience of 400 paid tribute to American men and women who have given their lives in defense of the country during a moving Memorial Day Observance held at the VA Medical Center at Mather Monday.

A group of 30 veterans were honored with the dedication of memorial bricks, which will be installed at the Veterans Memorial Plaza, located in front of the medical center – an annual tradition. They will join more than 2,000 which have now been placed at the plaza.

Hosted for the 13th straight year by World War II veteran Robert Burns, Lt. Col., US Army (Ret.), the gathering was an emotional mix of music, tributes and friendly rivalry among veterans from different service branches.

But if they could not agree upon which branch was superior, the audience was in complete agreement about the purpose of the day: paying homage to Americans who have died in service of their country over the generations. U.S. Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove, and a host of city dignitaries took part in the observance, as well.

“We are so fortunate to be living in the United States of America, the most wonderful country on earth,” said Burns. “We honor those who have protected our freedoms, giving generously to our nation. Some gave all. And remembering them is what Memorial Day is all about.”

Robert Martinelli, Col., USAF (Ret.), a 30-year veteran who spent three tours of duty at Mather AFB, including as commander of the 323rd Flying Training Wing, and presiding over the closure of Mather in 1993, delivered an emotional keynote. Tracing a century of service at Mather, which was opened in response to World War I, closing at the end of the Cold War and continuing to serve the nation today, Martinelli also outlined the pride and dedication of those who served at Mather. His comments drew a standing ovation.

The Rancho Cordova River City Concert Band provided a musical backdrop with pieces dating back to World War I through the Vietnam War, with plenty of patriotic music, as well. Bagpipers Bill Adam and Bill Welch helped close the program with “Amazing Grace.”

The Memorial Day Observance was produced by the Cordova Community Council with the help of a community-based volunteer committee, Cordova High School Jr. ROTC cadets and assistance from the Veterans Administration Northern California Health Care System.

Families, friends and neighbors came out to honor those who gave their lives for our nation. Photo by Rick Sloan Remembering all those who came before us in conflicts and wars past. Photo by Rick Sloan Mayor Bob McGarvey speaks to the crowd. Photo by Rick SloanYoung families learned more about what it takes to be a free nation. Photo by Rick SloanThe bagpipers added reverence and grace to the ceremony. Photo by Rick Sloan