Michael Alan Pogue was just 19 years old when he died in the Vietnam War while serving with the U.S. Army in 1969 and was returned for burial in the Colusa Cemetery.
Ruben “Boy” Lopez was killed in the Afghanistan War in 2011 and is buried at Holy Cross Cemetery.
Robert Odums Jr. was born in 1915. He served in World War II and was laid to rest in Colusa in 1993 having reached a ripe age of 78. Raymond Torres fought in the Korean War and died at age 64.
Frank A Mund was born in 1893, served with the U.S. Army’s 102nd Infantry in World War I, and was a member of the American Legion. He was just 41 years old when he died on July 29, 1934. Harold G. Sandridge Sr. was born in 1931 and served in the U.S. Navy. He died at age 44 and was buried in the Colusa Cemetery in 1975.
They, along with more than 600 veterans, whose families will celebrate the Christmas holiday without them, were honored Saturday at the Colusa Cemetery’s first National Wreaths Across America Day ceremony.
About 1,700 cemeteries across the nation gathered Dec. 14, 2019, to remember all those whose sacrifices allow this nation to stand as a shining beacon of liberty and freedom, said Cemetery Manager Daniell Frampton, who organized the event.
“The freedoms we enjoy today have not come without a price,” Frampton said. “Lying here before us, and in cemeteries throughout this nation, are men and women who gave their lives so that we can live in freedom and without fear. We can worship as we see fit. We can raise our children to believe as we do. We can travel from one end of this great nation to the other and not have to ask permission. We are free to vote for whomever we feel should be in government office, with no explanation needed. We have the right to succeed and we have the right to fail at whatever endeavor we wish to pursue.”
The green wreaths with red bows that were placed on the headstones of veterans and displayed on hangers to represent the five branches of the military, prisoners of war, and the missing in action represented a commitment by Colusa to remember the fallen, to symbolize the honor shown to those who served in the military or are now serving, and to remember the sacrifices endured everyday by their families.
Saturday’s ceremony was well attended by members of the community who purchased wreaths for their loved ones, and volunteers from the Colusa Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Maxwell American Legion, and Boy Scout Troop 5, who helped place wreaths on graves, pausing at each headstone to say that veteran’s name aloud and thank them for their service.
Williams Chief of Police Jim Saso presented a wreath sponsored by the Williams Police Department to Lopez’s mother, Gold Star Mom Gloria Estrada.
SSG Jay Butler presented the wreath to honor those who served and are serving in the U.S. Army; Corp. Kim Zepeda presented the wreath honoring those who served or are serving in the U.S. Marine Corps; VFW member John Tiernan, retired Colusa County Superior Court judge, presented the wreath honoring those who served or are serving in the U.S. Navy; E-4 Billy Rosenburg presented the wreath honoring those who served or are serving in the U.S. Air Force; E-3 OT John Barron presented the wreath honoring those who served or are serving in the U.S. Coast Guard/Merchant Marines; and VFW member Gene Tanner, presented a wreath to honor the 93,129 service members of all branches of the service whose last known status was either Prisoner of War or Missing in Action.
“There are many men and women serving today in all branches of the military, here at home and in places far away that most of us have never heard of,” Frampton said. “These men and women are part of the best-trained, best-equipped force in the world. We honor them and their families for the sacrifices they make each day to keep our country safe from terrorism, hatred, and injustice.”
It is Frampton’s goal for all Colusa County cemeteries to host ceremonies annually on Wreaths Across America Day. For each wreath purchased before Jan. 15, 2020, for next year’s ceremony, the National Wreaths Across America will make a matching donation. ■