American Legion Post 288 presented a Memorial Day Service at Two Strike Park on Monday.
The U.S. flag folding ceremony was conducted and the flag was then given to the family of Frank Ragazzi who passed away one month before his 97th birthday on April 28. At the start of World War II, Ragazzi tried to enlist in the Army Air Corps. But he was rejected because he had an exemption because of his occupation in a “critical industry.” He was a construction electrician working on a large pharmaceutical company. He was told to come back when he received his next notification. He did and was able to enlist on Nov. 21, 1942. He went to basic flight training, got his wings and was on active duty in 1944. He was a test pilot and a flight trainer including training five Women Air Force Service (WAFS) pilots.
Mike Baldwin, American Legion, also took the opportunity at the ceremony to thank Lt. Col. David Worley for his service as mentor/teacher of JROTC at Crescenta Valley High School. Worley is retiring this year from CVHS JROTC.
The national anthem and “Amazing Grace” were sung by the Hot Topic Quartet. The keynote speaker was Major General Mark MacCarley (Ret.) U.S. Army. He shared that as part of his responsibility while serving in the U.S. Army he had to attend military funerals for those men and women who died while in service to their country. At the end of each service the American flag that had draped the top of the casket would be taken and “carefully” folded. Then it was his duty to hand the flag to the grieving family.
“On behalf of the President of the United States and a grateful nation please accept this flag … as a symbol of your loved one’s honorable and faithful service,” he told the audience of the message he delivered when presenting the flag to the family.
But what he always wanted to say was something different.
“I want so much to say to that grieving spouse or child … that this is our last war. That America will never send another young man or woman into harm’s way,” he said. “That from now on the world will resolve all future conflicts with responsibility, without bloodshed, so that no family … will have to lose a loved one ever again. I know that would be a lie, because Memorial Day serves as a reminder to us that freedom is not free, it comes, and all of you know this, it comes with the highest of costs because there will always be evil, hatred, intolerance and despotism in this world and your United States will continue to ask its children to make extraordinary sacrifices, sometimes the ultimate sacrifice, just like those we honor today.”
Photos by Mary O’KEEFE