With Memorial Day coming this weekend, I’ve been thinking a great deal about the men and women who have served our nation in the military, and what it means to serve others. Military service is one incredibly important way to serve others.
Being in the military is all about serving others. We even refer to our time in the military as “our time in the service.” Both during and after military service, those who have served really understand the value of helping others.
I remember wanting to continue to serve my country when my military duty was done, and I know many former service members who felt the same. We all came home seeking ways to give back to our communities. Today, when I meet young men and women who have served more recently, I can see they also understand selfless service to others.
I don’t have to look far to find wonderful examples of this service, and I am really impressed by the way this service makes life better for each of us. Two such service members giving back to others are former Marine and retired Ukiah Police Captain, Wayne McBride, and former Marine and current Ukiah Police Sergeant, Fred Keplinger. Together, they are preparing a number of boys and girls from our community to participate in the Marine Corps Devil Pups Youth Program.
The Devil Pups Youth Program is a Marine-sponsored program designed to instill teens, ages 14 to 17, with solid values such as self-confidence, team-building skills, and a clear understanding of what it means to be a good citizen. Each year more than 600 teens participate in the training, which is conducted during the last week of July at the Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base in Southern California.
Although only 25 percent of those who participate later enlist in the armed services, recruitment and enlistment are not the goals of this program.
Instead, the goal is to teach teens self-discipline and a proud sense of responsibility for one’s own actions. Most of the teens who participate say that this program was essential in helping them learn that hard work and responsibility are keystones to a successful future.
Those who would like to know more about the program should contact Wayne McBride at 707-489-7948 or Fred Keplinger at 707-391-8985. Currently, nine teenage boys and one teenage girl from the Ukiah area are participating in the program.
The Ukiah Police Department recently donated funds to the program to purchase an American flag and other ceremonial equipment. We are proud to help out, and we look forward to seeing that new American flag in action this weekend, as the Devil Pup applicants from our area carry it in Ukiah’s Memorial Day Parade.
Our local Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1900 will lead the Memorial Day parade to honor those who have paid the ultimate price while serving their country. The parade is scheduled for Memorial Day, Monday May 27. It will start downtown at about 10:45 am, travel on School Street to the courthouse, then down State Street before turning on to Low Gap Road and ending at the Russian River Cemetery.
Along with this fantastic parade, State Street will be lined with American flags to honor those who died serving our country.
Today, more than a million men and women, including some of our community’s best, keep us safe by serving in our armed forces in dangerous, far off places like Afghanistan.
Millions more have served our country in the past with distinction and honor. These brave men and women have put their lives on the line, sometimes sacrificing everything, so that we may freely enjoy our lives.
Sometimes in the military, the worst occurs and we lose those we love. Among those we have lost are some young men who have touched Mendocino County:
- Army Sergeant Jason Buzzard, who was lost in Baghdad, Iraq in 2006,
- Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Jesse Pittman, who was lost in Afghanistan in 2011, and
- Marine Corps Master Sergeant Aaron Torian who was lost in Afghanistan in 2014.
Along with these military losses, I can’t help but think of those we have lost in the law enforcement community, including Deputy Bob Davis who died protecting the Covelo community in 1995, and Deputy Ricky Del Fiorentino who died serving the Fort Bragg community this year.
Tragically there are many, many more.
Memorial Day was created to remember and honor those who died to protect our way of life–our safety, our freedom, and our right to pursue happiness.
Memorial Day was first celebrated on May 30, 1868. It was originally known as Decoration Day, a day set aside to honor the nation's Civil War dead by decorating their graves.
More than a hundred years later, Congress moved Memorial Day from May 30 to the last Monday in May to create a national holiday over a three-day weekend. Some argued that making the holiday part of a three-day weekend might cause the holiday's true meaning to be lost. Luckily, here in Ukiah, that’s definitely not true.
In Ukiah, we line our streets with American flags and have parades to recognize and honor those who have given us so much.
This Memorial Day, please take time to remember those who have served. Honor those cherished veterans who have selflessly given each of us more than we could ever know.
As always, our mission at UPD is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have any suggestions or comments about how we can improve, please feel free to call me, complete our online survey, or leave a crime tip on our website: www.ukiahpolice.com.