2016 Memorial Day at the Presidio

May 30, 2016

Memorial Day honors those who died while serving their country in the Armed Forces of the United States.

The first ceremonies began in 1864 near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Our ceremony in the Presidio is very much like the first one except that today we honor many more American heroes then were celebrated at Gettysburg.

The 2016 Memorial Day began at 9 am near the flagpole on the Parade Ground in front of the Presidio Officers Club. The flag was raised to full height and then lowered to rest at half mast.

The event begins with a Grand March from the Parade Ground into the National Cemetery. Marching units from local military schools, a Marine Corp Band, and veterans in full uniform, are formed into groups and are ushered into their place by parade organizers. By parade time there is assembled along the parade route a substantial gallery of onlookers, mostly veterans and their families. Once the band strikes up we began the short parade into the San Francisco National Cemetery.

The cemetery was full of decoration. Flags of various sizes were flying all ‘round. We looped up through the cemetery and parked our cars behind the spectator seating. Everyone appears to enjoy seeing the cars. Again this year we got a lot of thumbs-up gestures and photos. Old timers came by to swap stories about the fun they had riding in the rumble seat of the family Model A Ford or to ask “What year is it?”

Then came the program. Wallace Levin, Master of Ceremonies and a veteran of the Korean War, began by introducing Carol Autrey, whose father Marine Corporal Charles Gordon Smith was wounded during a landing on Guam on June 21, 1944, and died later that day aboard the USS Warren, and was buried at sea. Carol (sister of Scott Williams) was there to remember and honor her father, as well as to represent all those family members who bear the loss of those who pay the ultimate price in order to preserve the freedom we so often take for granted.  Prayers were offered, and there were patriotic songs and speeches honoring those who gave their lives for our country. The ceremony ended with a twenty-one gun salute and closing remarks. It was a wonderful day of remembrance. We were greatly honored to have played a small part.

Afterwards we all retired to the Presidio Golf Course Cafe for a spirited lunch.

Photos by Scott Williams