Just before 11 a.m. Monday, where Odd Fellow Way winds through the Columbia Cemetery, a crowd of more than 100 people gathered.

Families with small children in tow. Military veterans with canes to navigate the hilly terrain, where a cluster of white crosses had been placed atop marble grave markers.

The Columbia Grenadine Belles again served as host for the Memorial Day Salute held each year at the historic cemetery inside Columbia State Park.

Jim Deglopper, a docent at Columbia State Park and the event’s MC, stood in front of the crowd. The crowd quieted as he clipped an American flag to a pole and slowly raised it to half staff.

As the Pledge of Allegiance echoed through the space, Cal Fire airplanes buzzed overhead during maneuvers at the Columbia Airport.

Members of the Belles read portions of the history of Memorial Day.

Then the roll call of fallen heroes, buried nearby.

From the Civil War: in the 2nd California Cavalry, George Phelps, Company C; Robert Daley, B.F. Merrill, John Orr, J. Truitt and H.R. Trask, Company E; Harrison Child, Company G; Robert Flint, Company H, William H. Siner, Company A, 36th Massachusetts Infantry; William McClaren, Company I, 11th Pennsylvania Infantry; Andrew Anderson,m13th Wisconsin Light Artillery; C.J. Paine, 1st Ohio Light Artillery and J.H. Caldwell, Company L, 5th Illinois Cavalry.

From the Spanish-American War: George Grant, Company A, 14th Infantry, USA; Peter Marker, Company E, 1st Idaho Infantry; Walter Ross, Company G, 7th Infantry.

And from World War I: Lawrence Kress, Company L, 30th Infantry.

The Belles and the color guard placed flags and small bouquets of red, white and blue flowers at each headstone.

With hands on hearts the crowd stood as “Taps” hung in the humid air.

The rendering of honors from two black powder muskets broke the silence.

Deglopper offered a benediction prayer.

And he repeated a promise he’s made countless times before.

“As long as I am alive, I will remember.”

He then urged those gathered to do the same.

“As long as we are alive, we will remember.”

Divide Cemetery memorial

Folks also gathered Monday morning at the historic Divide Cemetery in Big Oak Flat, said Denise Henderson, who serves as the cemetery board’s secretary.

Roland Elliot, a Korean War Veteran, bugler, and historian played “Taps” as Tuolumne County Sheriff Bill Pooley stood by. and Perry Aherns lowered the flag to half staff.

After the ceremony, veteran Roland Elliot was given a card signed by those in attendance.

Elliot has been the longtime master of ceremonies for the Divide Cemetery’s Veterans Day and Memorial Day events.

23303608