Saluting All Those Who Served

Sacramento County, CA  |  Story and pictures by Susan Maxwell Skinner
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Senator Jim Nielsen joins a salute by Rancho Cordova High School ROTC Cadets. Photo by Susan Maxwell Skinner
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Marion D. Smith (left) and Bob Burns -- 90 and 91 years old respectively -- grasped weathered hands as two of the few WW II survivors. Photo by Susan Maxwell Skinner

Veterans and Community Stand for the Flag

Sacramento County, CA (MPG) - “Too many people, regard freedom as an entitlement,” Senator Jim Nielsen told a weekend Veterans Day audience, “It’s not an entitlement, it’s an obligation – an obligation to serve. There are those who disparage our flag and our pledge. We need to stand up and say no to that. Thousands of soldiers died so that flag would not touch the ground. Renewing our patriotism is a good thing; for we are a great nation.”

The Fourth District representative was speaking at Veteran’s Medical Center. Nearly 500 Sacramento County veterans and supporters attended the gathering held at former Mather Field Air Force base.

This year’s event theme was “From Argonne to Afghanistan.” The two locations represent a century of American military effort. An allied offensive at Argonne Forest (France) spanned less than two months and ended WW1. Now in its 16th year with no end in sight, the Afghan war is recognized as America’s longest conflict.

At the Mather event, Marion D. Smith and Bob Burns -- 90 and 91 years old respectively -- grasped weathered hands as two of the few WW II survivors. From 1945 t0 46, Smith was a radar specialist on the USS Livermore. He later served the Army Reserves. Bob Burns extended his WW II Army career during Korean and Vietnamese theaters.

The stalwarts were joined by 94-year-old Kiyo Sato, whose Japanese-American family grew strawberries at Mather in the 1930s. Sato, eight brothers and sisters and their parents were interned in Wyoming during war years. After her release, the eldest daughter achieved a college degree, nursing qualifications and eventually reached the rank of Captain in the US Air Force.

“I was born here,” says the Rosemont resident. “I feel the same emotion about America as any citizen.  I will never stop working for this country to again be a beacon of hope.”