Monday, April 15, 2024

2021 Memorial Day Services at Star Park

This drone shot of Star Park shows that, while nearly 200 people turned out for Memorial Day Services, it was a far lighter crowd than in years past. Photo courtesy of Ken Bitar, at

Memorial Day Services were held Monday at Coronado’s Star Park. The event annually is hosted and organized by VFW Coronado Post 2422, with support from both the military and civilian communities.

Lance Corporal Arthur Lubberstedt (left), and Staff Sergeant John Whitney played taps during the 21-gun salute. Photo by Joe Ditler.

Last year, due to the virus, Memorial Day Services were filmed, but no physical event took place. This year the VFW suggested in advance that attendance to this event would be limited. They only set up 100 chairs, and it proved most adequate.

There was a turnout of nearly 200 people, sitting, standing, spread out on blankets, and scattered throughout the park and fringed along Star Park Circle. What they found was an amazing and thought-provoking salute to our fallen military, and there couldn’t have been a dry eye in the place.

Vice Admiral Roy Kitchener deployed around the world commanding destroyers, cruisers and an expeditionary strike group, as well as numerous chief of staff commands. He gave an emotional and thought provoking talk that can be heard at – video coverage provided by Tony Perri and Surf’s Up Studios.  Photo by Joe Ditler.

Miss Jobeth Cosgrove framed the event by singing the “National Anthem” in the beginning, and “God Bless America” to close the ceremony. In between, moving and passionate speeches were given by Mayor Richard Bailey and others.

Coronado resident and WWII veteran Tom Rice making a presentation of Buddy Poppies during Memorial Day Services at Star Park to honor all those men and women of our armed services who didn’t come home – who gave their lives for their country. Top photo by Joe Ditler. Bottom Photo by MC2 Kevin Leitner.

As US Navy Frogmen, and surviving family members slowly presented floral tributes in memory of their loved ones, one lone soldier commanded a standing ovation. He was Coronado’s Tom Rice, the only surviving member of World War II present this day. Sergeant Rice served in the 101st Airborne Division and jumped out of a plane in 1944 over Nazi-occupied France. As a young man, he was one of Coronado’s first lifeguards.

The guest speaker was Vice Admiral Roy Kitchener, who gave a moving testimonial as the sun peaked through the grey morning sky. The MCRD Honor Guard presented a 21-gun rifle salute, and Taps were played by Lance Corporal Arthur Lubberstedt and Staff Sergeant John Whitney.

Navy SEALs and UDT Frogmen were in attendance, but far fewer than in past years. Their presentation was an emotional event unto itself, not lost on the crowd of nearly 200. Photo by MC2 Kevin Leitner.

Anyone who has attended one of these events knows that you do all you can to check your emotions, but, when the two trumpets play Taps, at opposite ends of Star Park, with the echo effect in full play, there is no holding back the tears.

God bless our military, and on this day, we honor those who didn’t come home. We honor the men and women who have served their country and paid the ultimate price with their lives. May we never forget them.

VFW Post Commander, Chuck Lucas, was MC of the event at Star Park. Behind him are Coronado Mayor Richard Bailey and other respected presenters. Photo by Joe Ditler.

In addition to VFW Coronado Post 2422, this annual event has been put together with generous support from the City of Coronado, the Marine Corps League (Coronado Detachment), United States Navy League, and the Military Officers’ Association of America (Silver Strand Chapter).

A lone biker stood at the rear of the event in Star Park. His jacket associated him with California Veterans of Foreign Wars. Photo by Joe Ditler.

The City of Coronado’s full video coverage of Memorial Day Services can be seen at Video coverage provided by Tony Perri and Surf’s Up Studios. For more information on the Coronado VFW, contact Dennis Costa at (619) 435-6917, or [email protected].


Joe Ditler
Joe Ditler
Joe Ditler is a professional writer, publicist and Coronado historian. Formerly a writer with the Los Angeles Times, he has been published in magazines and newspapers throughout North America and Europe. He also owns Part-Time PR (a subsidiary of Schooner or Later Promotions), specializing in helping Coronado businesses reach larger audiences with well-placed public relations throughout the greater San Diego County. He writes obituaries and living-obituaries under the cover "Coronado Storyteller." To find out more, write or call [email protected], or (619) 742-1034.

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