The Memorial Day ceremony was followed by a smaller service at the Tracy War Memorial, where the names of Tracy residents who died during wartime were read aloud.
Col. Thomas Loomis of the California National Guard spoke at the cemetery, recalling the 1.3 million servicemen and servicewomen who gave their lives.
“We are here to decorate the memories, as well as the markers, of those who have gone before us and have paid the ultimate sacrifice,” Loomis said.
Mayor Brent Ives issued a proclamation from the City Council commemorating the holiday as a reminder that “freedom comes at a great cost.”
“Tracy cares about its country,” Ives said. “Tracy cares by its giving nature. Tracy cares in a number of ways, and this is one of the ways we show it.”
The Tracy Community Band played several patriotic songs, and members of various organizations laid wreaths on the Grave of the Unknown Veteran of Past Conflicts, which was at the center of the cemetery service emceed by John Treantos from the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post.
Flags also adorned the graves of veterans throughout the cemetery thanks to the work of local Boy, Girl and Cub Scouts. Members from Boy Scout Troops 525 and 537, the entire Tracy Girl Scout service unit, and Cub Scout Packs 525 and 505 decorated more than 1,500 headstones Saturday, May 26, in preparation for Memorial Day.
Twenty-seven year U.S. Navy veteran Greg Karl said the ceremony was a good way to remember those serving overseas. He said that while he was on active duty, he always thought about the people back home, but now that he’s retired, his thoughts often turn to those who are away.
“I keep them in my prayers and thoughts,” Karl said. “It’s always with you. It’s in your heart. It’s in your blood.”
Before the 21-gun salute and playing of taps, Loomis asked those in attendance to do three things to honor the memory of those who died serving their country.
“Be kind to one another in all that you do. … Tell others what you know about this day. … Remember those who, though they were willing to pay the ultimate price, were injured in mind and body,” he said.
The Memorial Day service continued at the Tracy War Memorial, where about 100 people gathered to hear veteran Don Ridolfi read the names of Tracy war dead, from those who died in World War I to those who perished in Afghanistan.
As Ridolfi called roll, a bell was struck for every name. Another 21-gun salute and the playing of taps closed the ceremony.