FAIRFIELD — Dale Harrison couldn’t stop the tears flowing from his blue eyes.
Just a few minutes earlier, members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Simmons-Sheldon Post 2333 had stood at the grave of his mother and father, placing a wreath and flowers at the base of the headstone.
Edwin C. Harrison served “20 years and a day,” in the U.S. Air Force,” Dale Harrison said. His mother, Georgia Harrison, served her country working in civil service for more than 20 years.
“Honored and proud” were the words chosen by Harrison’s brother, Keith Harrison, to describe the moving remembrance. Dale Harrison said he was happy his parents were chosen for the honor.
The couple is buried at the Suisun-Fairfield Cemetery, which was the first of two stops made by veterans and residents after the Memorial Day remembrance ceremony in Suisun City.
An American Legion observance followed at the Rockville Cemetery, where those who attended were reminded to renew their pledge of loyalty to our country and the American flag.
Suisun City Councilman Mike Segala read a poem “The Last Monday in May,” which asks Americans to recall year-round the sacrifices made by those who didn’t come home from war.
Memorial Day remembrances began with a ceremony across from the recently renovated Suisun City Veterans Memorial Building. About 100 people gathered to hear from keynote speaker Sgt. Maj. Jesse Branch, retired from the U.S. Marine Corps. He served during the Korean and Vietnam wars.
“It’s the duty of every veteran to relay the meaning of Memorial Day,” Branch said. “It’s not just a day off work.”
He asked the crowd to join him in a moment of silence in honor of Lt. Col. James Warren, a Vacaville resident and Tuskegee Airmen who helped break the color barrier in the military. Warren died earlier this month.
Branch shared some statistics with the crowd, noting that facts have a way of not allowing people to ignore them.
“We know who they are because when we visit the cemetery we can see their shortened lives on the headstone,” Branch said.
While there may be a time in the future when men and women don’t have to make great sacrifice to stand against tyranny and injustice, it’s critical to remember those who have done so, Branch said. He encouraged those attending to visit a cemetery, veterans hospital or just thank a member of the military.
“Today should be regarded as a civic obligation,” he said.
In his opening remarks, Patrick Grealy, Simmons-Sheldon post commander, said the U.S. is the greatest country in the world and that Americans are the greatest people.
“May the United States of American always be free,” he said.
Singer JB Ramirez closed the ceremony by singing “God Bless America” after encouraging people to write their representatives in Congress and insist that problems with Department of Veteran’s Affairs health care be fixed.
Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.