Remember our veterans this Memorial Day

I know, I know — it’s the first big three-day holiday weekend of the year, full of auto racing, barbecues and family trips to the woods that launch us headlong into the summer season.

My great-grandmother, Maria Natalia Hernandez-Venzor, visits the French grave of her 17-year-old son, Daniel Vendor, killed in combat on the morning of the final day World War I, just hours before the Great War ended.

But we should all remember that Memorial Day — a federal holiday on the last Monday in May — mourns and honors our deceased men and women for their military service.

Local veterans groups plan ceremonies at three of our local cemeteries.

My grandfather — Samuel Stuart Williams, right, with an unidentified Army buddy. The family knows he served in the Philippine-American War at the beginning of the 20th Century because we have his military record from that time. But we have been unable to verify his claim that he also served as a young bugler with Teddy Roosevelt during the famous charge up San Juan Hill in 1898.

At 8 a.m., the American Legion will hold a ceremony at the Susanville Cemetery by the Historic Lassen County Courthouse (many locals call it the Pioneer Cemetery) honoring its namesake, Tommy Tucker.

At 9 a.m. the Veterans of Foreign Wars will hold a ceremony at the Chestnut Cemetery.

My uncle Ted Williams as a child in San Diego in the 1920s. Although he gained fame as a baseball player, he said he was proudest of his service in the U.S. Marine Corps as a pilot in World War II and again in Korea as John Glenn’s wingman.

And at noon a program will be held at Diamond Crest Cemetery, featuring the Avenue of Flags (weather permitting) — more than 300 American flags, a patriotic sight to see, that’s for sure.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. “Originally called Decoration Day, it was formalized by a ‘Memorial Day Order’ issued by Grand Army of the Republic Commander-in-Chief John A. Logan in 1868.”

My father — Danny Williams. He also served during World War II. Tell me — did those Buster Brown haircuts inspire the British rock stars in the early 1960s?

The modern proclamation calls on Americans “to observe Memorial Day by praying, according to their individual religious faith, for permanent peace.”

I also know we’re all busy having summer fun this weekend, but I hope if you are unable to attend one of these ceremonies, you’ll at least pause for a moment to remember and honor those who have served our country in the Armed Forces.

On Ted Williams’ first combat mission in Korea, his Panther was hit by ground fire, forcing him to belly land  at something like 200 miles-per-hour. His burning jet skidded down the runway for nearly a mile before it finally stopped. Williams completed 39 combat missions while  serving in Southeast Asia.

We owe all these departed veterans our respect on this day established to celebrate their memory and sacrifice to our great land.