Ceremonies and events honoring America’s veterans in the Santa Ynez Valley will start Saturday, continue Sunday and conclude Monday under the leadership of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7139 and American Legion Post 160.
The public is invited to participate and pay tribute to the 1.4 million service men and women who died in some 60 military actions over a 229-year span, said Alvin Salge, commander of VFW Post 7139.
“Sacrifice is meaningless without remembrance,” Salge said. “America’s collective consciousness demands that all citizens be aware of, and recall on special occasions, the deaths of their fellow countrymen during and after wartime.”
On Saturday, crosses and VFW medallions will be placed on veterans’ graves at Old Mission Santa Inés Cemetery on Highway 246 at Mariposa Drive in Solvang, the Solvang Cemetery on Chalk Hill Road at Elsinore Drive, Oak Hill Cemetery on Baseline Avenue at Oak Hill Road in Ballard and Saint Mark’s-in-the-Valley Episcopal Church Cemetery off Nojoqui Avenue at Alamo Pintado Road in Los Olivos.
Salge said more than 800 veterans’ graves will be decorated at Oak Hill Cemetery, starting at 9 a.m.
Then from 1 to 3 p.m., members of the VFW will be in front of the Albertsons supermarket on Highway 246 at McMurray Road in Buellton to hand out red poppies that people can wear on their lapels, pockets and button holes in memory of veterans.
Salge noted red poppies were first distributed after World War I to honor the service men and women who perished in that war.
VFW members will continue handing out red poppies Sunday from 1 to 3 p.m. in front of Albertsons.
Then Monday on Memorial Day, members of American Legion Post 160 will conduct short ceremonies honoring veterans at 10 a.m. in Solvang Cemetery, 10:30 a.m. at Old Mission Santa Inés, 11 a.m. in Oak Hill Cemetery and 11:30 a.m. in St. Mark’s Cemetery.
Salge said those will be followed by a Memorial Day program, featuring a flyover of vintage military aircraft, presented by VFW Post 7139 at noon in Solvang Park on Highway 246 at First Street, where a plaque at the base of the flagpole honors the 18 Santa Ynez Valley veterans who died from World War I through Afghanistan.
The program will include music by the Santa Ynez Wind Ensemble and remarks by a senior Vandenberg Air Force Base officer and retired U.S. Navy Capt. Charlie Plumb, who was captured and held as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War.
Other veterans of the Vietnam War as well as World War II are also scheduled to participate, along with members of American Legion Post 160 and the Boy Scouts of America.
The Vikings of Solvang will host a barbecue for veterans and their families following the program.
For more information, visit www.syvalleyvets.org.