La Mesa ‘Daughters’ mark 100

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Photo by Jessica Brodkin Webb Sailors fold an American flag during a ceremony in La Mesa marking the 100th anniversary of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

The La Mesa chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution commemorated the centennial of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington, Virginia with a local ceremony held at Harry Griffen Park Nov. 11.

“Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God,” reads an engraving at the memorial that honors all those who gave their lives in combat and died, unidentified.

The Navy Band Southwest’s Brass Quintet, tucked in the shadow of trees to one side of the park amphitheater, played in the background as Letitia Coxe Shelby Chapter Regent Darlene Cook welcomed Grossmont High School’s Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps to present colors.

Following the pledge of allegiance led by Makenna Grieshaber and the national anthem performed by Bonnie Harris, local Boy and Girl scout troops filed on stage with 21 war and military-affiliated flags swirling in the wind.

The warm, sunny steps of the amphitheatre were lined with thin cushions for attendees; tucked inside each one was a copy of former President Warren B. Harding’s 1921 address at the burial of an unknown soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, printed on thick paper which indicated the hefty words from the speech.

When the tomb was first dedicated, then-President Warren B. Harding said the soldier might have come from any one of millions of American homes.

“We do not know his station in life, because from every station came the patriotic response of the five millions,” Harding said.

Friday, Lieutenant La Toya Zavala, a chaplain in the United States Navy who gave the keynote address at the local La Mesa ceremony identified the soldiers who lie beneath the tomb at the national cemetery as ‘all of us’.

“Although we have coined and use the term unknown soldier, they are known to us. In fact, we know them very well. We call them brave defenders, warriors, our beloved… but their blood ran the same color as our blood. We know they were traveling in the human existence like you and me,” Zavala said.

Glancing around the amphitheatre filled with families, many children in Boy and Girl Scout uniforms after participating in the parade of flags, Zavala informed attendees that the unknown dead “faced an enemy on foreign soil for you and me, people they would never meet so that you and I could vote and be free and pass that freedom on from generation to generation”.

If we are to honor those soldiers, sailors, Marines and Coast Guard servicemembers, we must rise above division, she said.

Together, she said, we make up the soul of our great nation, regardless of race or religion.

“We are simply Americans,” Zavala said.

Following Zavala’s speech, which was punctuated by a standing ovation, the Naval Burial guard formally presented the American flag as it would at a funeral, carefully folding the flag into a symbolic tricorn with 13 folds to represent the original colonies.

Checking and rechecking her watch, Cook made sure a moment of silence was held at exactly 11:11 on Nov. 11, just as it has been held for a century in recognition of the moment World War I, the war that was supposed to end all wars, drew to a close.

Since then, the country has lost over 300,000 service members in combat, combined, during World War II, Korea, Vietnam and Operation Desert Shield/Storm.

La Mesa ‘Daughters’ mark 100

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