Miramar Memorial Service Marks 75th Anniversary of D-Day, Pacific Battles
‘Determination, fighting spirit of American soldiers’
(May 26, 2019) With the 75th Anniversary of the World War II invasion of Normandy to be observed in June, the Veterans Memorial Service at Miramar National Cemetery was dedicated to remembrance of D-Day veterans, as well as to veterans of battles fought during June 1944 in the Pacific.
On June 6, 1944, said Sallay Kim, Vice-President of the Miramar National Cemetery Support Foundation, which sponsors the annual service, 132,000 Allied soldiers landed on the beaches of Northern France. It was the largest invasion in history.
“Hundreds of books, movies and TV shows have illustrated the bravery, the determination, and the fighting spirit of the American soldiers who stormed the beaches that day,” said Kim, a retired Army officer. “Thanks to their great sacrifices, the invasion of Normandy was successful.”
She also recalled the June 9, 1944 Battle of Saipan when U.S. Marines and Army troops fought to retake the Japanese-occupied Island of Saipan – a battle that cost thousands of lives on both sides. During the Battle of the Philippine Sea, ten days later, U.S. Navy aircraft shot down 600 enemy warplanes and sank three Japanese aircraft carriers.
“Today, Miramar National Cemetery is the resting place for many World War II veterans,” Kim said. “Whether they fought in Asia and the Pacific, in Europe and the Atlantic, or in other theaters of war, these veterans deserve our gratitude and our respect.”
Despite dark clouds that threatened rain, some 550 veterans, active duty military, family members, and the public attended the eighth annual Veterans Memorial Service. Boy Scouts and Young Marines assisted the audience, along with a contingent of Navy League Sea Cadets. An honor guard of Young Marines paraded the Colors at the beginning of the service.
The 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing Band provided patriotic music, and accompanied 15-year-old Siena Lorraine Haustein of Carlsbad, who sang the National Anthem. Chaplain (Commander) Manuel Biadog, Command Chaplain at the Marine Corps Air Station, Miramar, offered the Invocation and Benediction.
Col. Charles B. Dockery, commanding officer of the Marine Corps Air Station, Miramar, was the featured speaker at the memorial service.
Limiting his scheduled 10-minute remarks to two minutes, Dockery invited members of the audience to spend the remaining minutes of his time honoring those buried at Miramar National Cemetery.
“I would ask you to spend your eight minutes wisely, on behalf of our fallen warriors,” he said. “So that among us all, every headstone is visited today in the spirit of grateful remembrance.”
For the Fallen
He concluded his remarks with the final stanza of the poem, For the Fallen, by Laurence Binyon:
“They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”
Brian Alvin, Chief of Operations for the Pacific District of the National Cemetery Administration, noted that more than 4.7 million Americans, including veterans of every war and conflict, are interred in VA national cemeteries. The NCA is creating an on-line platform – The Veterans Legacy Memorial – where users may pay their respects to veterans interred in a national cemetery and upload historical information about their service.
“It is said that we each die two deaths,” Alvin said. “The first when breath leaves us for the last time, and the second, the last time someone speaks our name or tells our story.
“It is vital that we safeguard the legacy of our service members, so they continue to live in perpetuity,” he added. “It is also essential that we preserve our history, sharing it with future generations so we remain strong as a nation and never forget the sacrifices given to ensure our liberties.”
The NCA also has recently installed memorial plaques at its cemeteries, including at Miramar, to honor veterans and their families.
“This new memorial honors not only our fallen in combat, but everyday heroes – those men and women who use what they have learned from their service to make an impact within their community and continue to give everything they have,” Alvin said. “These are the men and women that we continue to honor every day.”
San Diego Veteran of the Year, retired Marine Corps Master Sergeant Matthew Foster, urged members of the audience to volunteer with organizations that help veterans who are struggling with hardships.
As chairman of the North County Stand Down for homeless veterans and a VFW post commander, he has seen, first-hand, veterans who need help to make their way through life.
“You think your life’s crushed, and then you meet somebody else who’s got it worse than you, and you can help turn them around,” Foster said. “You have that power. You all have that power to turn somebody else’s life around.
“So I’m asking you. Help somebody else. Volunteer,” he implored. “I can’t help everybody, but I can help somebody. Can you help somebody?”
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By Bill Heard, Public Information Officer
Miramar National Cemetery Support Foundation