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Ceremony honors ‘unsung heroes’

SOLANA BEACH — Remembering “the true heroes of our nation and our community” on a “truly American holiday,” Mayor Mike Nichols dedicated the Memorial Day ceremony at La Colonia Community Park to “those who gave their lives to protect our country, our freedoms and our American way of life.”“These brave men and women gave everything so we can live in liberty,” Nichols said at the May 27 event. “We shall be reminded every day by their sacrifice and know that freedom is not free. It is a gift selflessly purchased by others at great cost.”The annual event, co-hosted by the city and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5431, was attended by VFW members representing all branches of the military, two former Solana Beach mayors, the Camp Pendleton Young Marines, Solana Beach firefighters, area residents and guest speaker David Jacinto.

Jacinto shared stories of his father and stepfather, who served in World War II, and Gen. James Doolittle, a fighter pilot who led an attack on Japan that became known as The Doolittle Raid.

During the top-secret mission, 16 B-25 bombers took off from the USS Hornet and bombed Japanese targets. Although the damage was minimal, the raid proved Japan was vulnerable.

“As I look out at each of you and see those who served and those who support you, I know there are many other stories of our unsung heroes who have given so much to make this a better place for me and my family,” Jacinto told the crowd of more than 200 people.

“We owe a debt of gratitude to the hundreds of thousands who made the supreme sacrifice in battle,”’ he said. “May we use this precious gift wisely. To the soldiers and their families left behind, I offer you a humble thank you.”

The ceremony ended with the Santa Fe Christian High School band performing a medley of military anthems, Issac Trotta playing “Taps” and the release of white doves “to commemorate the souls and spirit of deceased service members,” Randy Treadway, VFW Post 5431 commander, said.

The Presentation of Colors is provided by Camp Pendleton Young Marines, from left, Luke Smith, Fernando Mendoza, William Leguizamon, Issac Jones and Tyler Jones. Photo by Bianca KaplanekRetired Navy Chief Rob Cook and his wife of 61 years, Clarie, wait for the ceremony to begin. Photo by Bianca KaplanekJim Stark of Encinitas and Leucadia resident Ruth Ann Parker are among the more than 200 people at the annual event. Photo by Bianca KaplanekMayor Mike Nichols, right, chats with Randy Treadway, VFW Post 5431 commander, before the celebration begins. Photo by Bianca KaplanekGuest speaker David Jacinto shares a story about Gen. James Doolittle, a fighter pilot who led an attack on Japan that became known as The Doolittle Raid. Looking on is Randy Treadway, VFW Post 5431 commander. Photo by Bianca KaplanekSteve Ellwood, George Townsend and Jack Fletcher respond as guest speaker David Jacinto thanks servicemen and women for “laying their lives on the line to do the work that needs to be done to preserve liberty worldwide.” Photo by Bianca KaplanekVFW Post 5431 Chaplain Clarence Bytof stands as “The Marines’ Hymn” is played by the Santa Fe Christian High School band. Photo by Bianca KaplanekJohn Leipper, left, and Rudy Saenz salute as the Navy anthem, “Anchors Aweigh,” is played by the Santa Fe Christian High School band. Photo by Bianca KaplanekOceanside resident Dayna Holthus, a 10-year-old Camp Pendleton Young Marine, releases doves at the conclusion of the ceremony. Photo by Bianca Kaplanek

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