Beginning Saturday this weekend, May 25-27, Santa Ynez Valley residents will gather in observance of Memorial Day during a series of events and ceremonies that pay tribute to the 1.4 million service men and women who died in some 60 military actions over a 229-year span, according to Commander of VFW Post 7139, Alvin Salge.

On Saturday morning, 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 that over 900 graves will be decorated at Oak Hill Cemetery on Saturday, starting at 9 a.m. The public is invited to observe the ceremony and assist with the take-down of the memorial on Monday, May 27 at 3 p.m.

Solvang parade honors heroic WWII fighter pilot

On both Saturday and Sunday, members of the VFW Post 7139 will hand out "red buddy poppies" in front of Albertsons supermarket on Highway 246 at McMurray Road in Buellton from 1 to 3 p.m.

Historically, red poppies were first distributed after WWI to honor the service men and women who perished in the war, Salge said.

On Memorial Day, May 27, American Legion Post 160 will conduct short ceremonies at 9 a.m. at the Santa Ynez Mission, 9:30 a.m. at Chalk Hill Cemetery, 10 a.m. at Oak Hill Cemetery, and 10:30 a.m. at St. Mark's Cemetery.

Under the direction of the VFW Post 7139, the weekend of events will conclude with a Memorial Day program at Solvang Park at 10 a.m., according to Salge, which will include the Santa Ynez Valley High School band led by Les Rose; Vandenberg Senior Officer and American Legion/VFW Post guest speakers; the Boy Scouts; and vintage military vehicles provided by the Santa Ynez Valley Flat Fender Club.

"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."

All Valley veterans, residents, and their families are invited. For more information about the coming events, visit www.syvalleyvets.org.

Crowd packs Solvang Park for Memorial Day observance Monday

Lisa André covers Valley Life for Santa Ynez Valley News. 

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