Hundreds gathered at San Francisco National Cemetery at the Presidio today to participate in the events marking the 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean War and to pay special tribute to World War II veterans.
“The Presidio Trust is honored to host this important annual ceremony that brings us together to reflect and pay tribute to those that have sacrificed for our nation,” Presidio Trust Executive Director Craig Middleton said.
The 145th annual Memorial Day ceremony began at 10:30 a.m. with a parade of the 191st Army Band, veterans’ organizations and other distinguished guests.
The march had people driving World War II-era vehicles and some wearing World War II and Korean War-era military uniforms.
U.S. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said Memorial Day reminds her of her Baltimore days when Baltimore Memorial Stadium was dedicated in 1954.
“There was a big to-do about who it would be named for … and it was decided almost unanimously with great enthusiasm that it would be called Baltimore Memorial Stadium to honor our veterans,” Pelosi said. “On the walls of the stadium it said, ‘Time will not dim the glory of their deeds.’”
She said it was the same theme as a line from a poem carved into a wall at an overlook in the Presidio that read: “They say: We leave you our deaths. Give them their meaning. We were young, they say: We have died. Remember us.”
San Francisco resident Ernie Filippo, 72, fought in the Vietnam War in 1965 and was handing out red Buddy Poppies, which have been the official memorial flower of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S.
“It’s recognizing all the servicemen that have been lost,” he said.
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, American Battle Monuments Commission Secretary Max Cleland, Consul General of France Romain Serman, and Retired Army Gen. Walter Sharp also spoke at the event.
Serman bestowed France’s highest distinction, the Knights of the Legion of Honor, upon seven American World War II veterans.
The festivities ended with a 21-gun salute by the U.S. Army’s 75th Pacific Division.
The event was dedicated to Korean War Medal of Honor recipient Maj. Gen. William Dean, who was the highest-ranking U.N. prisoner of war. He passed away in 1981 and is buried in San Francisco National Cemetery.
San Francisco police Chief Greg Suhr, Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, and state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, were also in attendance.
Zack Farmer, Bay City News