Service, sacrifice honored at Memorial Day ceremony |

Service, sacrifice honored at Memorial Day ceremony

With red flowers on her hat and bedecked with flag-motif accessories, Arline Kenny passed out red paper poppies made by veterans to commemorate all those who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces.

In Grass Valley’s Memorial Park, Kenny was among more than 200 people attending the Memorial Day ceremony Monday of color guard, bagpipes, band music and speeches.

Like many there, Kenny, of Grass Valley, has multiple connections to the military: Her father, a Norwegian immigrant who spoke no English, cooked for American troops in France during World War I. Her husband served in the South Pacific during World War II. A son served in the Vietnam War.

“I just think it’s important to remember them,” Kenny said of all those who have served or fallen while serving ” giving back through her own service in the American Legion Auxiliary.

The themes of service, sacrifice, remembrance and thanks wove through remarks by mothers and children of service men and women; by one of fewer than two dozen Pearl Harbor survivors still alive; by disabled vets; by veterans of recent wars in Asia and Iraq and by people with roots in the American Revolution.

“Memorial Day has eroded to being a day off from work and a day to party,” said Fred Meyers, chaplain of the local American Legion Post.

Sean Metroka, a retired Marine Corps colonel, Iraq vet and Nevada County Superior Court’s chief executive, vowed to talk to his own children – and urged others present to do the same – about the importance of remembering that American prosperity and freedom have come through great sacrifice.

“We owe America’s fallen heroes of all wars a debt that can never be fully repaid,” said Sue Horne, a county supervisor running for Assembly and a founder of the local chapter of Blue Star Mothers of America.

“It is easy to talk about peace,” said Chief Petty Officer Tim Horner, a Penn Valley resident and Iraq naval vet now in the Sea Bees reserve. “It’s a lot more difficult to do something about it.”

Wreaths and flowers adorned the walls naming local people who have died in five wars. A new name has been added, that of USMC Cpl. Sean Stokes, one of four county men killed in action in the second Iraq War.

An all-veterans honor guard fired a 21-gun salute. A bugler from the 59th Army Brass Quintet played taps. The eyes of tattooed men in leather jackets grew wet.

And children played, skimming down a nearby slide and hunting for brass shells in the grass.

To contact City Editor Trina Kleist, e-mail or call 477-4230.

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