The city of Tehachapi held a Memorial Day parade and ceremony to pay tribute to those who gave their lives while serving and protecting our country.
Hundreds of community members gathered in downtown Tehachapi to honor those who sacrificed their lives for our freedom
“We’re here doing this parade and event to try and recognize those people who sacrificed, made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our liberty here," explained Kevin Davey, post commander for American Legion Post 221 in Tehachapi. "So we’re trying to make sure that the public is here and that we educate everybody about the importance of it.”
Davey says that Memorial Day is more than just a time to get together for food and fellowship, it is rather a time to acknowledge the importance of those who have paid the ultimate price.
U.S. Marine Corps veteran Lynn Eckert says that Memorial Day reminds her to step back and remember the saying “freedom is not free” and that our veterans and fallen heroes gave all of what they could.
“It’s an honor. It’s a privilege. It is something that I believe every American should do is honor those because every American is free because of those lives lost.”
During her time in U.S. Marine Corps Eckert served in Twentynine Palms, California, and in Japan and says that the veterans of today are able to help our community understand what it truly means to be free.
James Rice, a U.S. Army veteran who served in Vietnam expressed the impact that Memorial Day has on him and his family. He tells 23ABC that this holiday means everything to him.
“The significance of today is to remember our fallen comrades, people that gave extra for this country, a lot extra," said Rice “As a disabled veteran who served in Vietnam, this is very special to me.”
The mayor of Tehachapi, Phil Smith, adds that in addition to honoring our heroes Memorial Day is also a time to highlight the importance of supporting those who are grieving their lost loved ones.
“Especially the families when someone goes away and they’re on a tour of duty. There’s a whole family of people waiting for them to come home, and they have to be supported here as well."
Blue Star Mothers of America is a long-standing organization that consists of mothers who have children serving in the military, guard or reserves, or children who are veterans.
Jennie Settelmeyer from the organization says the mothers within the organization support each other and their children while promoting patriotism. And that she is honored to be a source of support for the gold star families.
“We are here to support the gold star families that have lost children in service to our country. We are forever grateful for their children's sacrifice and their family’s sacrifice today.”
Virginia Jones, who is the mother of a fallen U.S. Army veteran, uplifts those who are mourning and reminds them to keep the faith and cherish the everlasting memories of their warriors.
“I guess when you go through something like this, it’s either going to define you or it’s going to defeat you. Just let it define you instead and just remember all the love and the smiles and the laughter.”
Jones adds that she encourages everyone to thank those who have served our country and have paid the ultimate price.