Legion prepares for Memorial Day | TheUnion.com

Legion prepares for Memorial Day

The American Legion Post 130 will host a Memorial Day Tribute this Monday.

The event, which pays respect to fallen veterans, will begin at 11 a.m. at Grass Valley’s Memorial Park, 350 Race St., with the National Anthem.

Legion Commander Claude Hessel is a 28-year veteran and helping coordinate the event.

“Memorial Day is more sacred (than Veterans Day),” Hessel said. “Memorial Day was originally Decoration Day after the Civil War.”

Hessel said he is looking forward to hear the speeches by retired two-star Marine Corps Gen. Orlo Steele and Nevada County District 3 Supervisor Dan Miller — a veteran and an alum from Nevada Union High School.

Mike Hauser, a Vietnam veteran helping organize the event, said he also is looking forward to hearing from Steele, who has over 32 years of service under his belt.

Hessel himself retired as a commander in 1998, shortly after purchasing a house in Alta Sierra, after 21 years as a Coast Guard pilot and seven years as an army pilot.

The retired executive air officer said event attendees won’t exactly meet a movie star, but they could meet the inspiration for the 2000 movie “The Perfect Storm.”

Hessel said Sebastian Junger, the author, wrote about a rescue Hessel orchestrated on Oct. 31, 1991, out of Cape Cod.

“Warner Brothers did the movie,” Hessel said. “It was the biggest storm recorded in history, with a hurricane that they never named and two weather systems resulting in 100-foot seas.”

Hessel rescued three people from a sailboat by the name of “Tamaroa” and three additional members of the Coast Guard who had punctured their rigid-hole inflatable — a pontoon — in a previous attempt to rescue the three civilians.


Hessel said he is looking forward to hearing the song “Amazing Grace” played on the bagpipes.

Chef John Abas will prepare a $10 spare rib for lunch at 12:30 p.m. Hessel said, so far, 107 have made reservations for the event which is capped at 120 people.

Abas has cooked meals for veterans and their social networks a number of times throughout the pandemic, Hessel said. Over 100 meals were distributed via drive-thru to commemorate those who have served at the All Veterans Stand Down, a drive-thru gourmet dinner fundraiser that took place in March.

Hessel said the event will conclude with a three-gun salute, a ceremonial act performed usually at military and police funerals.

Hessel said he is eager for the building the American Legion uses to open up in the fall after enduring over a year-long closure caused by COVID-19.

“We finally got the county to open up and to actually move the testing in September, as it opens up we can do more in that space,“ Hessel said.

Hessel is not only eager to convene with other veterans, but to raise funds for his group.

“American Legion is really hurting for funds,” Hessel said.

Hessel said he is particularly sensitive to the funding issues because of the $100 required to provide a plaque to each family seeking to honor a deceased loved one.

Hauser, the Vietnam veteran, said he is also looking forward to using the legion’s space more often now that things are opening up.

Currently, Hauser helps to oversee the building of American flag retrieval boxes, so the symbol can be retired properly.

Hauser said he is grateful to integrate the help of students from Nevada Union in constructing the boxes and Bear River students to help design the boxes’ graphics.

“We will retire the flags in a respectful fashion,” Hauser said.

Of the division that has plighted the country for a number of reasons, Hauser said he recommends service to those seeking unity.

Hauser said he is also looking forward to the new plaques that will commemorate local veterans, to be introduced this year on Veterans Day in Memorial Park, which will be the park’s 10-year anniversary.

Rebecca O’Neil is a staff writer with The Union. She can be reached at roneil@theunion.com

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