Pixel Tracker

Friday, January 18 , 2019, 9:10 pm | Fair 54º


Santa Barbara County Remembers America’s Fallen on Memorial Day

Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation hosts one of several local gatherings to pay tribute to the men and women who died serving in the military

[Click here for a related Noozhawk photo gallery.]

An overcast sky on Monday morning made the reds and blues of American flags marking veteran graves at the Santa Barbara Cemetery stand out vividly as people gathered there to remember the fallen on Memorial Day.

Thousands of people gathered throughout Santa Barbara County to observe and remember, including several hundred who came together at the event sponsored by the Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation.

Retired U.S. Air Force Col. Phil Conran welcomed the crowd, saying their attendance ensured the fallen would never be forgotten.

He said some members of the veterans community were not present Monday because they had flown to Europe to celebrate Memorial Day, as this year marks the 70th anniversary of when the Allies stormed Normandy.

Many U.S. soldiers died during that campaign, and many are still interred in the 24 cemeteries that the U.S. government maintains on foreign soil, according to Conran.

The colors were posted by the Sea Cadets, and music was provided by several groups, including the Shir Chadash Adult Choir of Congregation B'Nai B'rith and the USSB Chancel Choir of the Santa Barbara Unitarian Church, as well as directors Cantor Mark Childs and Kenneth Ryals, and the Gold Coast Pipe Band.

The program also included a presentation of wreaths as well as a flyover.

Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, was on hand to give her comments to the crowd, saying "it's important for our nation, and our community, to show our gratitude. This is a personal sacrifice that's been given by men and women for the sake of a greater common good."

The greatest tribute the country can give to veterans is "to make sure they're supported every step of the way," Capps said.

Retired U.S. Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Fred Lopez served as Monday's keynote speaker.

He said that this year marks the 70th anniversary of Operation Overlord, the invasion of German-occupied Western Europe via Normandy, France. The Americans saw more than 125,000 killed, wounded or missing during that campaign.

Lopez recalled traveling to Europe with his wife several years ago and crossing the English Channel on the anniversary of D-Day and toured the battlefields of Normandy.

One of the most striking things he saw was the Normandy American Cemetery and War Memorial on a bluff overlooking the Omaha Beach, one of the landing locations.

"It covers 172 acres and contains the remains of 9,387 American Military Dead," Lopez said.

Against the deep green grass of the cemetery are "endless rows of strikingly white crosses and Stars of David," he said. "It will take your breath away."

Seeing the panorama, Lopez said he felt his chest start to tighten and tears started to fall.

"It can make your heart ache for the fathers and mothers who never got to see their sons return," he said, adding that each grave marker faces in the same direction — west — "towards home."

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.