Memorial Day observances around the Bay Area

May 29, 2012 12:41:34 AM PDT
Memorial Day is when the nation sets aside to remember all those who have given their lives serving in America's wars. One of the largest Memorial Day observances is held at the San Francisco National Cemetery in the Presidio. It was one of many that took place around the Bay Area Monday.

The ceremony at the Presidio has been going on for 144 years.

The 191st Army band led a parade of veterans and VIPS into the cemetery. More than 2,000 people came to honor the men and women who have served this country. This year marked the end of the Iraq War and the anniversary of another.

"In particular, we remember the more than 400,000 Americans killed during World War II, in honor of the 70th anniversary of America's first year in World War II," Mayor Ed Lee said.

More than 3,100 veterans of World War II are buried in the National Cemetery.

Sebastian Carpou's grandfather fought in World War II. He's still alive and often talks to him about those years.

"That we tried to make this world a better place," Carpou's grandfather said.

Others came to remember those who died in recent combat. Rick Leal brought a framed picture of a baby who never got to see his father because he was killed in Afghanistan.

"It's moving, it's heart wrenching," he said.

A wreath laying ceremony honored those killed in Iraq and World War II.

Tuskegee Airman Honored in San Bruno

The first African American to ever fly a B-25 bomber was the guest of honor at a Memorial Day ceremony in San Bruno.

Captain Les WIlliams was one of the original Tuskegee Airmen, black fighter pilots who fought in World War II.

"Men who just had to be very, very patriotic; we had to put aside the way things were with prejudice and discrimination and fight because it's our country," Williams said.

The ceremony at the Golden Gate National Cemetery didn't just remember fallen soldiers. Current members and veterans of the First Brigade Air Assault Team were also honored, a San Mateo tradition dating to the Vietnam War.

Benicia Flyover

In Benicia, a fly-over honored those who gave their lives serving this country.

A KC-10 from nearby Travis Air Force Base flew in tribute as 300 people gathered at the Benicia Arsenal Post Cemetery. It was established in 1849 and is the oldest military cemetery on the West Coast.

Veterans from the Civil War to the Korean War are buried there.

Mare Island Ceremony

There was also a Memorial Day ceremony in Vallejo at the Mare Island Preserve Cemetery, which dates back to 1856.

That observance followed tradition and many there got a history lesson as well. Those buried at the cemetery include three veterans who each received the nation's highest award for valor and heroism -- the Medal of Honor.

USS Nimitz visits Bay Area for Memorial day weekend

One of the world's largest naval vessels spent part of Memorial Day weekend in San Francisco Bay.

The USS Nimitz sailed into the bay Sunday to join the 75th anniversary celebration for the Golden Gate Bridge.

The aircraft carrier has a crew of about 3,000 people and is named for Admiral Chester Nimitz, who commanded naval forces in the pacific during World War II.

Nimitz lived on Yerba Buena Island and is buried at Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno.

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