Saturday, May 25, 2024

Memorial Day Services Strike an Emotional Chord

Star Park and its spherical magic was never more evident than in this drone shot of Memorial Day 2023. Photo by Ken Bitar.

2023 Memorial Day Services were held Monday, May 29 at Star Park, as is tradition in Coronado. This year however, there were more in attendance than in years past, estimated by the Coronado Police and Fire Departments at 800-1,000 people.

Traditional Rifle Salute, by the Honor Guard, Amphibian Assault Battalion, 1st Marine Division. Photo by Joe Ditler.

Likewise, the remarks from guest speaker Rear Admiral Keith B. Davids, USN struck home in a big way. Davids is a Naval Special Warfare Officer with operational tours that include Platoon Commander at SEAL Team Two, element leader at Naval Special Warfare Development Group, Executive Officer of SEAL Team Seven, Commanding Officer of SEAL Team One, and Commander of Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force, Iraq.

Rear Admiral Keith B. Davids USN, guest speaker at the 2023 Memorial Day Service in Star Park. Photo by Joe Ditler.

“It’s hard to imagine another place with deeper ties to the US military than Coronado,” said RADM Davids. “It is the birthplace of naval aviation, home of the Surface Warfare Flag Officer Headquarters, training grounds for SEALS and SWCCs (small boat warfare). Our beaches and surrounding waters are training grounds for Seabees, Marines, submarines, and importantly, are home to many foreign service members and Gold Star families.

“The truth is,” continued Davids, “the sacrifices made by every family, and the memory of their fallen loved ones inspires us to be the best versions of ourselves, and inspires new and old generations of service members. We are honored and humbled to call them our sisters and brothers in arms.

“As I look across this crowd of great Americans, I certainly know the citizens of the village of Coronado fully understand the meaning of this day, and are grateful for the deep sacrifices made on behalf of our country.

“Coronado and its military enjoy a special relationship. One deeply rooted in more than a century of embracing, encouraging, and enjoying home town connections with our warriors and their families who live and work here.

“We live in a city where the military is really woven into the fabric of the community. This community sees our military men and women train on the island, send them off, and then greets them with a hero’s welcome when they return.

“And, when we lose teammates, as we have too frequently done in recent years, it’s felt in our neighborhoods, our homes, our churches and our schools. We mourn together, because that’s what neighbors do.

“On this Memorial Day, let us celebrate the legacy of the fallen, and honor the family and friends who grieve their absence. Let their sacrifice serve to inspire us.

“I have one request here today. And that is this, take time to reflect on our fallen. If you know someone we have memorialized today, please share their story. And if you don’t have firsthand knowledge, please take time to learn their stories. I promise you it will inspire you.

“On the occasion where I’ve taken time to reflect, I’ve sometimes wondered to myself, if our fallen Americans could speak to us, what would they tell us? Well, based on the ones I knew, I suspect they would say they wish they had a little more time to spend with the ones they love. That they didn’t know they were going to be forced to leave this world for another.

“But, I also know, they would say they were incredibly proud to stand between evil and their country, stand between evil and the people they love. And that, given the opportunity, they would willingly serve again if it meant having the chance to save the lives of their brothers and sisters in arms.

“When our nation called, they proudly answered the call and said, ‘send me.’ They represented the best of America because of their willingness to risk their lives for others. That, is why we gather here today in awe of our nation’s heroes.”

Rear Admiral Davids then went on to cite the all too many incidents. There couldn’t have been a dry eye in Star Park during his talk. He truly captured the heart of why we honor our fallen military on this day.

Volunteer Scouts did a tremendous job of passing out programs, miniature American flags, and Buddy Poppy lapel pins to guests and visitors in attendance. Photo by Joe Ditler.

Meanwhile, on the periphery of Star Park, people stood, sat and kneeled as close as possible to hear the various speeches and testimonies. Young boy and girl scouts eagerly roamed through the crowd, passing out miniature American flags, programs and Buddy Poppy lapel pins.

Presentation of Colors by the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. Photo by Joe Ditler.

Old SEALs and UDT veterans huddled around legendary SEAL Moki Martin to share stories and get caught up on their lives. Coronado police and firemen were seen throughout Star Park, engaging with the guests.

As the event drew to a close, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. emerged from a dark sedan, with his security team, to participate in part of the Memorial Day event. Kennedy, son of the late Robert F. Kennedy, and nephew of the late President John F. Kennedy, recently announced his candidacy to challenge incumbent Democratic President Joe Biden in 2024.

Coronado VFW Post 2422 hosts this annual event in conjunction with the United States Navy League (Coronado Council), the Military Officers’ Association of America (Silver Strand Chapter), and the Marine Corps League (Coronado Detachment).

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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