The event, the city’s 14th annual, was held at the Faces of Freedom Veterans Memorial
ATASCADERO — Hundreds of locals headed out to the Faces of Freedom Veterans Memorial to celebrate our fallen heroes at Atascadero’s 14th Annual Memorial Day Ceremony, which took place on Monday, May 30.
The Memorial Day Ceremony, which was a county-wide virtual event in 2020, and was shortened in the May 2021, was back in full action this year. Put on by the Atascadero Veterans Memorial Foundation (AVMF), the ceremony started at precisely 11 a.m. with a flyover by the Estrella Warbirds and lasted slightly over 30 minutes.
The Presentation of Colors was carried out by the Cal Poly Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) with the Welcome Home Military Heroes Flag Line. Central Coast Pipes and Drums accompanied them and also performed a moving rendition of “God Bless America” later in the ceremony.
The audience was asked to stay on their feet (if able) after the Presentation of Colors for a beautiful version of the national anthem performed by students from the Atascadero High School Choir.
“We stop to honor the accounts of men and women who gave their lives to protect the ideals and freedoms that we so readily take for granted,” said Pastor Garrett Kruse of Legacy Church Atascadero in his Invocation. “The individuals whose courage is best described by G.K. Chesterton, who said, ‘they had a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die.’ Today our flag flies, not because the wind moves it, but it flies with the last breath of every soldier who died protecting it.”
Veterans and members serving in all military branches were honored during the Armed Forces Medley as they were asked to stand as each of their branch’s songs played in the background.
“It is our duty; it is our honor and our promise to them, those who sacrificed, to live a good life and to not forget them. We must in some way show an expression and leave an impression honoring their service and sacrifice,” Corporal Tim Haley said in his speech. “That’s what this monument is all about,” he added about the Faces of Freedom Veterans Memorial.
Atascadero High School Choir member Cadence McGrath sang a touching version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” to honor our fallen war heroes.
That was followed by a wreath-laying honoring the memory of Seymour “Si” Tenenberg. Si was a U.S. Marine Korean Veteran who passed away on Feb. 7 at 87 years old. Over the last 15 years, Si was the director of the nonprofit Helping Soldiers in the Desert.
“[He was] responsible for sending 23,000 care packages to the active duty men and women in the military,” said Master of Ceremonies Dick Mason. “The mission of sending care packages is being carried on by a wonderful team of volunteers.”
The wreath-laying was carried out by Tenenberg’s wife Marilyn and her friend Linda Vleit.
Before the Retiring of the Colors and the end of the ceremony, Darin Gong played taps, while the Benediction was given by Pastor Garrett Kruse.