Chris Smith: Amid the pandemic, Memorial Day 2020 tributes must come from inside

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This Memorial Day, thanks to the pandemic, there will be no public gatherings or fly-overs, speeches or rifle volleys to honor those who gave their lives in service to their country.

There will be instead an opportunity to become silent and to reflect on the sacrifices.

Gary Magnani, who served with the Navy in both the Vietnam and Persian Gulf wars, and other veterans ask that at 11 a.m. on Memorial Day we pause to reflect on or pray for all Americans who did not come home from war.

“Since we can’t gather, let’s do it in our hearts,” says Magnani, who manages the privately owned Sonoma Veterans Memorial Park and can be reached through

He hopes also that we might consider, amid the anxiety, survivor’s guilt and other emotional fallout of the COVID-19 crisis, that it provides a taste of the distress many haunted combat vets endure much or all of the time.

GOOD SOLES: The global health crisis has been beyond harsh on myriad charitable groups forced to cancel or postpone essential events for raising funds.

One such nonprofit is Shoes 4 Kidz ( It provides new athletic shoes to local children who walk around in taped or tattered footwear.

“Many of the kids we serve have never had a new pair of shoes before,” said founder Myriah Volk, who had to scrub an April 4 fundraiser at Sebastopol’s HopMonk Tavern.

Without the dollars it would have brought in, Volk agonized over how she’ll purchase shoes for the start of the 2020-’21 school year. Might she and her board have to fold Shoes 4 Kidz?

Board member Jerry Robinson, the Cardinal Newman High star athlete who went on to play football for UCLA, the Philadelphia Eagles and the L.A. Raiders, made a call to a friend and fellow Newman alum.

On Wednesday that friend, Randy Destruel of Mead Clark Lumber, dialed up Volk to ask that she watch the mail for the $5,000 check he’d made out to Shoes 4 Kidz.

KEEPING MUSIC ALIVE: I hear of wineries that are helping idled musicians by hosting virtual performances that put money in the artists’ pockets.

One happens at 5 p.m. Thursday in a Zoom concert featuring singer-songwriter Justin Diaz of Napa County and arranged by Halleck Vineyard. Details are at

Winery sponsored performances like this one are free to viewers, but donations for the artists are welcomed.

AT SNOOPYTOWN, Gina Huntsinger has been awarded a big promotion.

She’s leaving her job managing the Santa Rosa ice arena built by late cartoonist Charles Schulz to direct the Schulz Museum just across the street.

How Huntsinger wishes Jim Doe were here to see her step on up there at the spot in Sonoma County dedicated to celebrating the genius and legacy of the creator of Snoopy and the entire Charlie Brown gang.

Huntsinger was close as kin to Doe, a lovably cranky Marine Corps vet who started out flipping burgers at the ice arena and then for decades managed the entire rink/Warm Puppy Cafe/gift shop complex. Doe died in 2019 at 78.

Huntsinger easily imagines what he’d say as she transitions from the arena to the museum:

“You’re still working for Peanuts!”

You can contact Chris Smith at 707 521-5211 and

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