Memorial Day Ceremony ...

Mayor Serge Dedina was the guest speaker at the Memorial Day ceremony on May 30. On the right is presiding Officer Chris Chapman.

After a three year absence due to the pandemic, the Memorial Day ceremony at Veterans Park was celebrated in Imperial Beach once again on May 30. This year marked the 54th annual event held in remembrance of those who died in service of their country.

A large group gathered at Veterans Park carrying flowers in memory of their loved ones and attended the celebration. Attendees included Mayor Serge Dedina who was the guest speaker, council members Paloma Aguirre, Matthew Leyba-Gonzalez, and Mayor Pro Tem Jack Fisher.

The event was co-sponsored by the City of Imperial Beach, FRA branch 289 & Auxiliary, VFW Post 5477 & Auxiliary, American Legion Post 820 & Auxiliary. The Imperial Beach Chamber of Commerce, Imperial Beach City Council, Imperial Beach Woman’s Club, Military Order of the Purple Heart Chapter 49, and Auxiliary and Navy Wives Club no. 16 were the participating organizations. The Mar Vista High School band was on hand and provided music during the event. Presiding the event was Chris Chapman.

During the address Dedina spoke of the sacrifices of those who gave their lives for their country and of the experience of his parents and relatives from France and England, some who fought alongside American soldiers to liberate Europe from the Nazis. “I was constantly reminded by my mother and father how vital the American forces were…My dad’s father Daniel served in the French Army during WWII and continually reminded me of the special relationship between the two countries…and how Americans paid the ultimate sacrifice to liberate France. That’s something he never forgot and was seared in his memory…On my mother’s side my uncle Ken fought in the British Army during WWII, he and his brother Stan served on the same Cromwell tank and fought alongside American troops during the invasion of Normandy and the Battle of of the Bulge,” recalled Dedina. His mother told him of seeing American planes flying over London, some on fire and American service members on the streets of her city. “Our country will never forget the sacrifices made by our soldiers…those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and our liberty,” he said.

A moving passage was read by Chaplain Don Kelley followed the list of names from each co-sponsor military organization who lost a service member in the last three years. Bob Oberting rang the bell for each name. Karen Odermatt of the Imperial Beach Chamber also read a passage.

Members of the public were called to the front to leave flowers for their loved ones and say their names aloud. One of them was Kym Niergarth whose U.S. Marine Corps husband died recently. Niergarth recalls she and her husband riding a motorcycle to the event every year and flying the American, the POW and U.S. marines flags. This year she came alone dressed in American flag colors and cape and brought flowers in memory of her husband.

According to Memorial Day started as Decoration Day when leader of an organization for Northern Civil War veterans, General John A. Logan on May 5, 1868, called for a nationwide day of remembrance later that month. “‘The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land,’ he proclaimed.” During WWI and beyond the country became involved in other conflicts and American personnel who died in conflicts were honored and Decoration Day became Memorial Day. “In 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May in order to create a three-day weekend for federal employees.

The change went into effect in 1971. The same law also declared Memorial Day a federal holiday.”

Vol. 38, No. 22 - Thursday, June 2, 2022

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