The names of ten Sonoma County men killed during wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were read not once but twice Monday at Santa Rosa Memorial Park.
As the wind ruffled the 1,000 casket flags of U.S. servicemembers and veterans, the calling of the names reverberated through the crowd of more than 800 people gathered for the park's 41st annual Memorial Day celebration.
“For most people, it's a day of sales and barbecues and the start of summer,” said keynote speaker Terry Hart, a chief warrant officer with the Army Reserves. “It's also a day of remembering the war dead.”
The hundreds people stood arm-in-arm and sat in wheel chairs. Some wore military uniforms with patches marking their service. Others wore patriotic T-shirts, tiny flags tucked into hats. They listened to the names in silence.
More than 500 men and women from Sonoma, Mendocino and Lake counties have died during their military service since the Philippine-American War that began in 1899.
The Santa Rosa ceremony began with a flag-raising ceremony in honor of Pearl Harbor veteran and longtime teacher Frank Sennello. The former Navy submariner died Jan. 3 at age 90.
Sennello taught grade school for three decades at Roseland Elementary and other local schools. He passed on his wartime experience to the younger generations, spending countless hours telling students about the Dec. 7, 1941 attack.
With Sennello's flag at half-staff, the Redwood Chordsmen brought veterans to their feet with a medley of the signature songs of the Coast Guard, Marines, Army, Navy and Air Force branches.
Speakers also honored the families of military service members.
Hart, 48, described the work that forced her to miss high school graduations, driving lessons and other key moments in her children's lives.
Hart served at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan and Balad Air Base in Iraq