On Monday, May 25, Highland veterans of American Legion Post 421 honored and remembered all those who gave their lives defending the United States, its citizens and its freedom with a private Memorial Day ceremony that included a three volley salute and the playing of “Taps” at Highland Memorial Park.
Due to coronavirus suppression measures, the Legion did not publish an invitation to the public to attend, but about 30 veterans participated in and attended the ceremony.
The ceremony opened with the presentation of a red, white and blue wreath at the Highland Veterans Memorial in honor of veterans of all branches of U.S. military. After the three-volley salute and the playing of “Taps,” family and friends of those who died in the service of the country were invited to place flowers at the memorial and the Highland Vietnam memorial.
Vietnam veteran Henry Castaneda presented a cane on which he carved the 17 names of those in his battalion ⎯ Marines 1st Battalion 9th Regiment ⎯ who were killed in action on April 16, 1968.
The “One Nine” battalion became known as the “The Walking Dead” due to their high casualty rate, resulting from being engaged in near constant combat 1967-68.
Named the Daniel D. Yarnell Highland Community Memorial, the memorial lists 11 Highlanders who were killed during the Vietnam War.
“It’s been a tradition for over 90 years and we need to do this. There’s no way the American Legion was not going to do this,” said American Legion 25th District Commander Jesse Saucedo about observing Memorial Day. “I know the coronavirus is scaring the living daylights out of us but we have four Purple Heart recipients here who were shot and injured in the line of duty. We signed that dotted line that said that through everything, thick or thin, no matter what we were going to go, we’d be there for our country. We have a lot of dedicated people here.”