CORONADO, Calif. (May 29, 2017) Vice Adm. Tom Rowden, commander of Naval Surface Force U.S. Pacific Fleet, delivers remarks during the Coronado Memorial Day commemoration at Star Park in Coronado, Calif. Nearly 500 military, veteran and civilian guests gathered to pay tribute and remember fallen service members, heroes, loved ones and brothers and sisters in arms. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Trevor Welsh/Released)
The Ultimate Sacrifice So We Can Live Free: Surface Force Commander Leads Memorial Day Service, Thanks Coronado Residents

CORONADO, Calif. (NNS) -- Vice Adm. Tom Rowden, commander, Naval Surface Forces delivered remarks at the Coronado Memorial Day Commemoration at Star Park, Coronado, California, May 29.

Nearly 500 people gathered to pay tribute and remember their fallen service members, heroes, loved ones and brothers and sisters in arms.

"Memorial Day is a singular day when, as a nation, we pause to show our respect to the spirit of those who have perished in service to our country and have left our presence, but whose memories we continue to hold deep in our hearts," said Rowden. "For more than a century, this community has embraced, nurtured, and been family for so many military members."

Color Guard paraded the colors and Jo Beth Cosgrove sang the Star Spangled Banner. Navy Chaplain Lt. Cmdr. Paul A. Hyder opened the ceremony with the invocation, and military, city and organization officials delivered remarks about the commemoration and the people whom it honored. Coronado Mayor Richard Bailey presented a proclamation on behalf of Coronado City Council. Cosgrove led the guests in the service song for each military branch as Sailors, Airmen, Soldiers, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen, young and old, rose from the crowd to stand during their respective song in honor and remembrance. A formation of riflemen fired a 21-gun salute followed by a lone bugler playing Taps. The ceremony was capped off by Cosgrove's rendition of God Bless America and Hyder closing with the benediction.

At its roots, Memorial Day was born from General John Logan's General Order No. 11 proclaiming what he called Decoration Day to be held May 30, 1868 "designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion," he proclaimed. Observed as Memorial Day since 1873, its purpose now is to honor and remember the more than 1.8 million men and women who have given their lives in service of their country since 1775.

"Memorial day is always bittersweet; knowing that fellow Americans - fathers, mothers, sons and daughters - have paid the ultimate sacrifice while serving their country," said Rowden. "It is especially humbling to stand here in uniform today and speak about the many American heroes we honor on this special holiday."

Military, veterans, first responders, civilians and their families were present at the event organized and sponsored by Coronado Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 2422, and supported by the Coronado Council of the Navy League, the Military Officers Association of America (Silver Strand Chapter), and the Coronado City Council.

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