Rancho Cordova Pays Tribute to FallenJun 09, 2023 12:00AM ● By By Shelly Blanchard, Cordova Community Council
Attendants study a historical graphic commemorating the African Americans who participated in the US Armed Forces during the Vietnam War. Photo by Rick Sloan
RANCHO CORDOVA, CA (MPG) - Rancho Cordovans 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 Cordova High School Performing Arts Center on May 29, 2023.
A group of 13 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.
The 2023 Memorial Day event paid special homage to the veterans and fallen from the Vietnam War era. March 29 marked the 50th anniversary of when the last troops left Vietnam and the final group of American prisoners of war were freed and left Hanoi. The Vietnam conflict raged on the soil of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia from 1955 to fall of Saigon, years which changed the lives of those who served, and the entire nation, as well.
“We are so fortunate to be living in the United States of America, the most wonderful country on earth,” said Master of Ceremonies and Navy veteran Rick Swinford. “We honor those who have protected our freedoms. All gave some. Some gave all. And remembering those is what Memorial Day is all about.”
Dr. Dan DeShong, a Vietnam veteran, shared moving remarks as keynote speaker, challenging the audience to honor those who fell in service of their country by making their lives count, too.
Representing the VA Northern California Health Care System, Heather Murphy of the Center for Development and Civic Engagement, echoed the theme of service as a way to honor the fallen.
“At the Department of Veterans Affairs, we honor the fallen and the missing in action by striving to serve living veterans as well as they have served us, working to fulfill each day (President Abraham) Lincoln’s charge to care for those who have ‘borne the battle,’ and their families, caregivers and survivors,” she said. “That’s what VA is about.”
Fifth District Supervisor Pat Hume shared his special connection with Memorial Day as a time to remember his own father, a highly decorated fighter pilot in Vietnam, ironically killed in a peacetime training mission over New Mexico when Hume was only five years old.
The Rancho Cordova River City Concert Band provided a stunning musical backdrop to the event, which included a stirring performance of the “Vietnam Veterans March,” featuring powerful vocals by Dennis Cain.
As is the custom on Memorial Day, veterans organizations placed memorial wreaths. The Cordova Community Council Foundation, represented by organization president and Vice Mayor David Sander, also placed a wreath in honor of all Rancho Cordovans who have given their lives in service of their country.
Throughout the program, prayers were shared for fallen warriors, and patriotism was celebrated.
That included a tribute to Bob Burns, Lt. Col., US Army (Ret.), who led the event for 14 years, including last Memorial Day at the age of 96. A veteran of World War II, Korea and Vietnam, Burns passed away last October, ending an era for Rancho Cordova military service observances and a lifetime of service to country and the warriors who protect it.
The Memorial Day Observance was produced by the Cordova Community Council with the help of a community-based volunteer committee, Boy Scout Troop 363, Cordova High School Jr. ROTC cadets and assistance from the Veterans Administration Northern California Health Care System.