During the ceremony, Vincent called out the names of the military personnel and at some point, she halted and hesitated reading a name. After each serviceman was called, Julio Castro, a U.S. Army National Guard veteran, responded with a salute saying, “No answer.”
HOLTVILLE — Amid colorful patriotic flags, red ribbons, and somber white crosses, the American Legion and Auxiliary Bradley-Keffer Post 138 and the city of Holtville hosted a Memorial Day Ceremony on the morning of May 29 at Holt Park.
Master of ceremonies Kim Vincent welcomed veterans, active military personnel, elected city and county officials, families, and guests at the Memorial Monument next to the city flagpole in the park. Wreaths were placed in front of the monument, and adjacent to the podium, white crosses were placed on the green lawn. Behind them were five flags representing the United States military branches: Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard and the Army.
Vincent, who served in the U.S. Navy (1988-1989), said the crosses represented the 33 veterans who once resided in Holtville and who sacrificed their lives for our freedom. They represented World War I, World War II, Korean, Vietnam and Iraq wars. Written on each cross was the name of a military veteran.
Vincent commented later, “It was just hard for me to realize to be part of this solemn ceremony; that we are here together today to remember these guys who sacrificed their lives for our freedom. It is painful just to imagine what the families went through in their time of loss.”
Holtville resident Linda Terrill and her two grandchildren stood in silence as they gazed at one of the crosses. It bore the name “Scoggins.” Terrill said Johnny Scoggins, who had served in the Vietnam era, was her friend and a classmate in elementary school and at Holtville High School. According to Terrill, Scoggins was an aspiring actor and had appeared in the movie “Bye Bye Birdie.”
Resting on a cross with the name “Silva, Iraq” was a photo of Cpl. Erik Silva, U.S. Marine Corps.
Vietnam era veteran Joseph Marlin sat next to his wife, Donna. He served in the U.S. Air Force from 1974-1980. He did not say much about his friends, nor of his experience. Marlin said in a low soft voice, an effect from a service-related disability, “I’m here today for the Memorial Day celebration.”
Guest speaker Lt. Josh Willhite, U.S. Navy, Naval Air Facility El Centro, gave remarks during the ceremony. “Today is our day to say thank you for those who, for generations, have foot the bill – to those who paid so dearly with their lives,” Willhite said. “And to their families and friends who lived, whose lives are forever changed, and to whom we owe an enormous debt. Gathering together on this day is one way to show your appreciation and gratitude.”
Lt. Willhite cited different ways U.S. citizens can show appreciation and gratitude. First, by volunteering to help veterans and by assisting families who are still grieving the loss of a service member, he said. And by visiting those injured to help them have a new life. Second, to find ways to ensure the legacy of our heroes, he said. Tell their stories, keep their memories alive, honor their sacrifices, and cherish their memories. And third, to pay homage to each of them, making Memorial Day an annual reminder of the need to give yourself in honor of those who have given everything, he finished.
Vincent, president of the American Legion and Auxiliary Bradley-Keffer Unit 138, concluded the ceremony with some thoughts. “I just wanted to thank the community for coming out showing support to the families and all these veterans who sacrificed their lives,” Vincent said. “This is why we come together on Memorial Day – to celebrate their lives.”