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Coastal Voices: Can we better honor veterans?

I was impressed with the Brookings Memorial Day observance reported in the Curry Coastal Pilot newspaper June 1. It highlighted the various activities in the program, bringing honor to our past and present veterans.

It was held on the boardwalk in the harbor and hosted by VFW Post 966, where Post Commander Rick Bremmer reminded the hundreds of Brookings-Harbor residents: “What we have as a nation today is born in part to what they gave yesterday, and what they are giving today and tomorrow.”

The article described several speaker topics, including an address by the producer of war film “Tora, Tora, Tora,” and also the presence of two Oregon National Guard planes flying over the site. A bugler played “Taps,” and the program ended when a lone bagpiper played “Amazing Grace.”

These words appeal to the soul of our Americanism, especially in my family because we lost our Oregon National Guard Capt. Bruno de Solenni, Sept. 20, 2008, in Afghanistan.

Bruno’s family stood in a group at the foot of the knoll of his burial site in Crescent City, which was decorated with flowers, his portrait, and a marching flag which his dad had provided. His brothers and a friend placed new sod on the grave, which is regularly mowed by another friend. Bruno’s mom, Calie, always stands with me near the flag, our usual spot for many years of attendance.

I thank the planners that take care of our annual program at the cemetery, the Coast Guard flag bearers, Naval Sea Cadets, and the military gun salute, the speakers and the Women’s Auxillary that do the awesome task of flag decorations as well as the potluck following the ceremony. Sadly, we didn’t have a bugler this year to play “Taps.” This reminded me there are some ideas I would like to submit as possible improvements for future programs, including guest comfort.

Chairs for guests would be a godsend, as so many of us are way up in years and often have problems with standing for a long time. Perhaps the marchers could change the direction of their entrance to allow placement of seating.

It would be wonderful to have a bugler or two doing the honors. I recall a couple years ago when two buglers did an “echo”-type “Taps.” Fantastic! VFW needs to invite them to be honorary perpetual buglers. And how about a bagpiper or more? We miss our grand Mr. Tom Stewert.

 My nephew Bruno had encouraging plans to bring together the Middle East war vets as a group, I believe. The VFW represents the WWII vets and Korea; some years later the Vietnam vets formed their unit, and now I’m wondering if the new (very young) Iraq and Afghanistan vets are waiting for a group of their own? Obviously we all are generational in all our cultural and personal habits, so I’m asking how/what has to be done to honor these young men and women and bring them together?

Or could it be this war is an experience they choose to bury deeply in their psyche and therefore not relate with other military veterans?

At the ceremony, Calie and I met recently returned vet Daryl Prumatico, who helped Troop Support reach 10 soldiers that I refer to as “orphans” because they received nothing during their deployment of nearly a year or more. Daryl’s wife, Lisa, also an Army vet, is starting a Women’s Veteran Group — great to hear this.

We also met our own local, recently retired, Army Maj. Aadam Trask, who landed his helicopters at our airport while en route to Fort Lewis after a training session a couple of years ago. His wife Tammie is a special lady who had her husband and two sons (soldiers) in Iraq at the same time. This couple needs to lead our Fourth of July parade next year!

Another local hero (Afghan­istan), Christopher Anthony, now a university senior, was there with his parents and grandmother. Wouldn’t it be commendable of our town to honor these three highly talented and brave men and Lisa plus others on the Fourth? Maybe these younger veterans could generate a float with a marching unit of other returnees?

Our family will always remember how Bruno organized a group of buddies to come down from the Armory in Grants Pass and walk in our parade. They were thrilled and felt so honored by our little town! On Front Street they demonstrated a repelling exercise off the Surf Hotel roof to the ground. And the most poignant was Roll Call, where Bruno called the names of his men and surrounding Eureka National Guard Members and other vets who stood at attention. Bruno had placed a chair facing the group, containing the draped uniform of his lieutenant who was killed in Iraq the previous year.

I think we have a legacy to follow the ambition and works of those like Bruno. We stand united to support and honor our warriors.

Jan Martin is a Crescent City resident.


Del Norte Triplicate:

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P.O. Box 277
Crescent City, CA 95531

(707) 464-2141

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