Lancaster Cemetery has for generations been the Antelope Valley’s spiritual center for programs and gatherings remembering the fallen and those that serve in our nation’s armed forces.
On Veterans Day 2019 the tradition carried on, as an absolutely beautiful fall morning greeted those who made the journey to pay their respects and gain a bit of patriotism from the community and its leaders, along with those who called our nation’s military home at some point in their lives.
At 9 a.m. sharp, Lancaster Cemetery Manager Dayle DeBry called the event to order and welcomed the community. The posting of the Colors was courtesy of Army Sgt. Becker from the Lancaster Armed Forces Recruiting Station, and under his charge were three Navy ROTC cadets from nearby Antelope Valley High School. After the posting and Pledge of Allegiance, local Blue Star Mother Sylvia Gaxiola gave a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem that carried well in the cold, still air in the Veterans Court of Honor. The local Blue Star Mothers placed the traditional service wreaths at the base of the service flags and Chris Chandler of the Valley’s Marine Corps League also placed the wreath of the Marine Corps. Dave Owens and the cemetery board of directors also placed a wreath in front of the World War II monument.
After the introductions of local civic leaders and presentations of certificates of appreciation, Chris Parke — a “go-to” guy when it comes to playing the bagpipes — gave a brief history of the pipers during the first and second World Wars, before he performed a medley of classic bagpipe standards.
The keynote speaker for the day was Antelope Valley Vietnam Army veteran Gerry Rice, who shared memories of his service and his journeys to Vietnam as a dog handler in a combat regiment. Rice, who also works with returning military soldiers, shared a bit of the challenges of today’s returning soldiers and the care and support that our nation needs to have available, to make sure our very best get our very best.
Overall, the event was reminiscent of all the great programs that always find their way into the Veterans Court at Lancaster Cemetery. The highlight of these programs is always those who attend and spend time afterwards sharing and connecting with old friends, military comrades and patriots.
We all left with full hearts, thinking that it won’t be long until we once again gather at Lancaster Cemetery for the Wreaths Across America program and another chance to gather as a community and honor the very best of our nation!