The citizens of Riverbank, including veterans of all ages, members of civic groups and government officials gathered before the Veterans Memorial Wall at the Community Center on Monday, Memorial Day, to make a “Salute to Our Heroes.”
The mid-day observance saw an audience of approximately 200 seated and standing in the shade in front of the center. There were veterans from the World War II era, Korea, Vietnam as well as from later conflicts who participated. Several fire and police officers were in attendance and participated as well.
The Riverbank High School Naval Junior Reserve Officers Training Corp color guard brought forth the flag.
Hosted by the City of Riverbank, Mayor Richard D. O’Brien opened the roughly half hour event by providing a description of how the day came about. All the members of the city council were present as well.
“The first Memorial Day was declared as ‘Decoration Day,’ in remembrance of those who fell during the Civil War. It recognized those who ‘gave their last full measure of devotion’,” O’Brien said, with the day marked by decorating the graves and taking time to reflect on the fallen.
Officially first proclaimed on May 20, 1868, as the last veterans of the American Revolution were fading away. O’Brien said the date was selected because it did not coincide with any particular Civil War battle.
Also acknowledging the sacrifices of our service men and women were Assemblyman Heath Flora, elected to the 12th District seat in 2016, and Congressman Jeff Denham, who has served in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2010. Prior to that, Denham served in the California 12th Senate District seat.
Mayor O’Brien, a U.S. Navy veteran himself, pointed out that before his political aspirations, Denham served in the Air Force for 16 years, in both Iraq and Somalia.
Both Flora and Denham worked together to place a special commemorative wreath at the Memorial Wall in front of the Community Center.
Trumpeter Jacob Hilliker, a student at Enochs High School, played ‘Taps,’ followed by a rendition of ‘Amazing Grace’ performed by a member of the Stanislaus Sheriff’s Pipe Band.
Reverend Charles Neal delivered both the Invocation and Benediction, after which, City Council member Cal Campbell raised the permanent flag to full staff, and the NJROTC guard retired their colors to end the event.