SOLANA BEACH — Retired Lt. Col. Susan Thompson said she cannot listen to the national anthem without tears running down her cheeks.
The guest speaker at this year’s Memorial Day celebration at La Colonia Community Park then urged the crowd to instill “the fires of patriotism” in today’s youth.
“Tell youngsters how much you love this country and how you would do whatever is necessary to maintain our rights and freedoms,” said Thompson, who served for 21 years as a flight nurse with the United States Air Force. “We have a responsibility to teach our youth so the next generation will feel that patriotism.”
On hand for the annual event, co-hosted by Solana Beach and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5431, were VFW members representing all branches of the military, current and former City Council members, the Camp Pendleton Young Marines, Solana Beach firefighters and area residents. The Santa Fe Christian School band, led by David Hall, performed patriotic songs.
Rudy Saenz read “In Flanders Field,” which was followed by a response from Clarence Bytof.
Chaplain John Zangerle, who is retiring, performed his final invocation and benediction.
Randy Treadway, past commander of VFW Post 5431, reminded everyone that more than 1 million military members have died in defense of our freedom since that first shot was fired at Lexington.
“God bless them all,” he said. “In dying for us they have passed on a legacy of liberty and freedom.”
Thompson, a decorated servicewoman who served in Operation Desert Storm, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, said one of the many things she learned from her years with the military is the difference between sacrifice and service.
“Sacrifice is something we have to do,” she said. “Service is something we get to do or can do. In life, we all have chances to do both.” She said she hoped more people would opt for service.
“I am so proud to be an American,” she said in conclusion. “I love this country.”
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