Kern County remembers its fallen veterans on Memorial Day weekend

BAKERSFIELD - From the Bakersfield National Cemetery to the Kern County Veterans Memorial, Kern County spent Sunday remembering those that served America. 

With the Wall of Valor in Bakersfield standing behind him, displaying the names of the Kern County men and women who died in combat, Rep. Kevin McCarthy described the freedom Americans enjoy, because of those names. 

"You have the exact names that defended it," McCarthy said, while addressing the audience. "In every single conflict, somebody from Kern County sacrificed the ultimate sacrifice." 

"I never knew them, they never knew me," McCarthy said in an interview after Sunday's memorial events. "But they gave their lives so we could spend today together. I never want to forget them and I want to make sure first and foremost that they didn't die in vain."

For the veterans that attended Kern County's Memorial Day weekend services, recalling names is easy - as they remember everyday, not just on this holiday weekend. 

"He was killed over there. He trained me and I think of him. Robert Garren," Army veteran Henry Garcia said. "Right here at this wall all of these are from Kern County veterans, and not only Vietnam but also World War I, World War II, Korea, and it gives them an honor and this is what I appreciate about Memorial Day." 

Many veterans carry the names of their fallen brothers and sisters with them everyday, as to guarantee that they don't forget. 

"That opportunity to remember the people that we otherwise forget, people who die, sacrifice for you," Lieutenant Samuel Van Kopp said. "They give up a lot to do that obviously and if you don't think of it constantly you lose it. It is too big of a thing to lose."  

But in the fast pace world we live in - it can be easy to forget. Using this weekend as a moment to pause and reflect is important to many people, even those that didn't serve.

"It makes you appreciate what you have because we forget," David Stockton said while at the Bakersfield National Cemetery. "It's easy to just go on about your day and say, we forget that so many people have given their lives to make our country great. Like they said, the greatest."  

That is what brought Kern County together today. The names. The people. Those from right here at home that fought for America at one time. 

For the veterans that are here to see Memorial Day, "Us that were lucky enough to come through it this way, we look back and think of the times that it could have been us," said Darrell Meaders, a World War II Navy veteran. 

On Memorial Day, the Kern County Honor Guard will perform Taps and recognize Memorial Day at three area cemeteries. They will be at Union Cemetery at 10 a.m., Greenlawn Southwest at 11 a.m., and Greenlawn on River Blvd. at 2 p.m.

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