These 24 notes mean everything on Memorial Day.
“Taps” was played by a solo bugler during a local broadcast that started with a bagpipe processional and ended with a “Missing Man” fly-over formation.
In-between those moments, the annual Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation program honored fallen veterans with David Gonzales singing the National Anthem, a choir singing “Shenandoah” and the main address by Anthony J. Mastalir, commander of the 30th Space Wing and Western Launch and Test Range at Vandenberg Air Force Base.
The program featured an opening statement by retired Air Force Col. Philip J. Conran, chairman of the foundation board.
Col. Conran is a 30-year veteran and recipient of the Air Force’s highest honor, the Air Force Cross. He also received a Purple Heart, the Airman’s Medal, four Distinguished Flying Crosses for actions in Vietnam and the Legion of Merit medal.
Other speakers included Lt. John Blankenship, the foundation co-founder and a former naval officer, who talked about the work of service members on the frontlines of fighting the coronavirus pandemic.
The program also featured an address by Brig. Gen. Fred Loprez, who served more than 30 years of active duty with the Marine Corps and Reserve.
During the ceremony, Lt. Col. Patricia Rumpza, a retired Air Force officer, led the pledge of allegiance. Retired Army LTC Jack Armstrong delivered the invocation.
In a news release before the broadcast, Lt. Blankenship said the foundation felt it was important to find a way during the pandemic to present the Memorial Day event this year to honor fallen heroes and demonstrate America’s resilience in the face of COVID-19. He said the solution was Monday’s broadcast, which brought an expanded audience for the ceremony.
Elsewhere, a smaller than usual crowd gathered at the Santa Maria Cemetery for a Memorial Day service that included a presentation of wreaths, bagpipes and several guest speakers.