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'It gives me hope' Kern River Valley community honors fallen soldiers on Memorial Day

A ceremony at the Kern River Valley Cemetery paid respect to those who died while serving in the U.S military
Posted at 5:48 PM, May 27, 2024

KERNVILLE, Calif. (KERO) — It's the ultimate sacrifice - giving a life for this country. The Kern River Valley community came together on Memorial Day to remember those fallen soldiers.

  • The ceremony took place at the Kern River Valley Cemetery and featured the Kern River Chorus and several speakers from the community.
  • Early in the morning, volunteers placed flags on the graves of veterans at the cemetery.
  • The manager for the Kern River Valley Cemetery estimates there are over 1,000 veterans interred in the Kern River Valley Cemetary


“Because we were willing, the ones that didn’t come back, that we’re honoring today, they sacrificed their lives to keep this country free.”

Frank Sundown, a Vietnam Veteran and a forty year resident of the Kern River Valley - was one of the dozens of community members to gather at the Kern River Valley Cemetery.

“To honor my brothers and sisters.”

Flags were placed on the graves of veterans early in the day – the manager of the cemetery estimates there are over one-thousand veterans interred in the Kern River Valley Cemetery.

The memorial featured songs by the Kern River Chorus, several speakers and a salute by the Honor Guard.

“My father went into the military in WWII, he was a civilian pilot. As soon as they found that out, they put him into training as a flight instructor.”

Mike Woodward is a veteran and the Chaplain for Post 711 of the American Legion. His father served in World War Two and was drafted into service again from the reserves.

“Went to Korea, and flew B26’s in combat in Korea, highly decorated, Distinguished Flying Cross. He also brought wounded marines from Chosin reservoir.”

Woodward then served in the military himself.

“I was flying anti-submarine aircraft off the coast of California and Hawaii.”

Both him and his father knew those who died in the line of duty.

“I’ve known a lot of fraternity brothers that never came back from Vietnam, and it’s personally very important for me to remember those that have fallen.”

Those veterans still with us were honored too.

“It’s just a wonderful opportunity for the community to come to the cemetery every year to make sure they show support for the veterans who have given their all and also the veterans that have managed to come home in one piece,” said Woodward.

“It helps the veterans that are still here.”

Sundown says as a veteran this support means a lot - especially those that have suffered from PTSD.

“They’ve seen things that no human should ever have to see,” Sundown said, “By the community coming out and supporting this, the veterans know that they are loved.”

“It’s absolutely wonderful to have community support,” Woodward said.

‘When you see people in your community gathered here, how does that make you feel?” I asked.

“Gives me hope,” Sundown replied.

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