“It made me feel real proud of everybody,” said Catherine Moncrief, a nurse who served in the U.S. Navy nurse corps from 1951 to 1953. “It was a good feeling. They are really nice here. They try to make things really nice for everybody. Luckily I had a picture. I didn’t throw that one away.”
The picture Moncrief talked about was one of many that adorned a wall of photos mounted on plaques that facility administrators made into a memorial wall. Each photo was placed beside a photo of yesteryear, when the man or woman in service stood proudly, wearing their uniform representing his or her station in the military.
All branches of military were represented, from the Navy, Air Force, Army Air Corps, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. One man was listed as serving in the British Army in 1939.
Natalie Hilbert, life enrichment and fitness director, and Jon Young, her assistant, put the day together for the men and women who live at Cascades of the Sierra, a 240-apartment complex built in 2009. The facility includes independent living apartments, assisted living and memory care.
Moncrief was pleased to be able to celebrate the day with her friends at the complex, as she usually would spent it visiting her husband’s grave site, which she can’t physically do any longer, she said. Moncrief met her husband in the Navy, in which he served during World War II and the Korean War. They both worked in the medical corps. He died in 1974, she said.
“I enjoyed the service very much,” she said. “A lot of that is what you make of it.”
Floyd Edsall also was proud that all branches of the military were represented on the wall of honor, he said.
“I’ve had an opportunity to meet really wonderful guys since I’ve been here,” Edsall said.
Edsall said he joined the military after participating in a university ROTC program. He trained at Camp Roberts and then was commissioned to be an infantry officer in Europe in the U.S. Army.
“We landed in Marseilles. We went south to north and to the northern borders,” he said, remembering the days he spent during World War II. “I had my 23rd birthday (there),” Edsall said. “Everybody in my platoon had a little nip on my birthday.”
After returning to Nevada, Edsall spent 30 years in the reserves and the Nevada National Guard.
Edsall said he often thinks about the young men and women of today who come home from military service without the prospect of having jobs.
“Now you can’t get a job and get on with their lives,” he said. “I find that the job race is very slow and in the 12 percent area. I hope we can get that turned around.”
Nancy Blakely-Lowther of Kerrville, Texas, and her sister LInda Blakley-Rindlist of Oroville, Calif., came to celebrate the day with their father, Cliff Blakley, 87, a decorated war veteran.
“He was in Vietnam twice, he earned a Silver Star and a Purple Heart,” they said, among other honors. “He was shot through the neck in Korea! I’m just so proud of him. He had three daughters, but his four grandsons are thinking of the Corps.”
Clint Tripp, 87, had a friendly smile as he spoke proudly of his service in the U.S. Navy during World War II. Tripp spent most of his three years, from 1943 to 1946, in Navy planes as a dive bomber, watching over aircraft, he said.
“I was in at 17. I volunteered,” he said. “My folks gave permission.”
Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day and is a day of remembrance for those who have died in the nation’s service. Waterloo, New York, was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, but some say it had origins in several small towns across America.
An official proclamation by Gen. John Logan, a commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, gave Memorial Day its beginnings in 1868. It was first observed May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves at Arlington National Cemetery.