Memorial Day is celebrated in a number of ways by families and local organizations, but sometimes the way it is celebrated shows the honor and sacrifice people are willing to go through to remember our veterans of past and present.
In honor of those soldiers who did not return home, have served and are currently serving, Pleasanton VFW Post #12162 held a 24 hour vigil from midnight to midnight on Memorial Day at the Pleasanton Freedom Center.
Members of Post #12162 took turns standing guard with a rifle at their side for an hour at a time throughout the entire day at the flag poles.
“This event was very important for us to put on as the younger generation. It is an honor to remember the fallen soldiers who paid the ultimate price in sacrificing their lives for our freedom,” said Post Commander Steve Mueller.
Here is a list of those veterans and members of VFW Post #12162 who stood guard during the 24 hour vigil: Post Commander Steve Mueller, Senior Vice Commander Stephanie Pino, Lance Yaws, James Whary, Trevor McCrea, Susy Pena, Johnny Rogers, John Garza, Dr. DiCaro, Manuel Canales, Joe Lopez and Doug Shreve.
“We had somewhere between 20-45 people from the community stop by to pay their respects and show us their support,” said Senior Vice Commander Stephanie Pino. “Our guards could not move during their post, but people would leave water for them by the bushes or lift it up to their faces. The older veterans had never seen such respect and they were super proud to be standing out there.”
At one point, John Morris, a member of the community walked up while Mueller was on guard, saluted him, stood at guard for a while and then walked off without a word.
“He did perfect facing movements so Steve brought the rifle to attention for him,” said Pino.
The Pleasanton Civic Center opened up one of their conference rooms for the Post to stay in throughout the day and at one point, the group heard Military Taps being played.
“We didn’t know who was playing and by the time we went outside, there was no one there but Manuel Canales who was on guard,” said Pino. “He said he didn’t see or know who it was because they stayed to his back but we greatly appreciate whoever it was. It brought us all to tears.”
Pino said even the Pleasanton Police Department stayed with them from midnight to daybreak keeping watch over whoever was at guard at the time.
“The community was just wonderful to us the whole day,” she said.
The vigil even caught the attention of KSAT 12 and another unknown news station Pino saw out there at one point.
“We plan to do this every year from now on,” said Mueller. “This was a trial for us and now we know what to expect and will be better prepared for next time.”
You can see more photos of VFW Post #12162 24 hour vigil on the Pleasanton Express Facebook Page.