Posted on May 16, 2022 by Sonoma Valley Sun
The Sonoma Valley Joint Memorial Day Celebration will be held Monday, May 30 at 11 a.m. at Sonoma Veterans Memorial Park.
In keeping with a popular tradition that began 17 years ago with the unveiling of the Star of Honor fountain, all veterans are invited to don their best military uniforms (or appropriate attire) and participate in the Great March at the opening of the Ceremony.
Guest of honor and keynote speaker is Claudio Calvo. A native of Sonoma County for 34 years, Calvo served in Vietnam with the United States Marine Corps. After retiring from a 30-year career in broadcasting for ABS Sports, he served as a Veterans Employment Representative with the California Department of Employment Development, where he assisted veterans with employment, health care, benefits, education, scholarships and financial aid.
Today, Calvo (above) is the co-founder and current president of “Hearts For Veterans,” a nonprofit focused on providing financial assistance to local veterans in need.
The ceremony will feature guest speakers, reverence and pageantry.
Carl “Chip” Allen, a local lawyer and US Naval Academy graduate who served as a US Navy submarine officer, will be the emcee. Gene Campagna, a local US Army veteran of the Vietnam War, will give the invocation. Reverend Peadar A. Dalton, active member and past president of the Sonoma Valley Ministerial Association, will give the blessing.
Members of Temple Lodge No. 14 of the Free and Accepted Masons of Sonoma will be the official ushers for the event. Katie Horgar (Miss Sonoma County 2022) will sing the “Star-Spangled Banner”. She will also co-direct The Pledge of Allegiance with Delaney Bright (2022 Sonoma County’s Outstanding Teen). “God Bless America” will be sung by local singer Cindy Daffurn.
The Sonoma Hometown Band led by John Patridge (with narrator Butch Engle) will provide additional patriotic music throughout the ceremony. Fred Payne will play bagpipes. Bugler Chris Severson will play Taps. Travis Air Force Base’s elite honor guard will be the official color guard and Veterans of Foreign Wars (Bear Flag Post 1943) will provide a rifle salute detail.
The Civil Air Patrol Cadet Colors Guard (157 Redwood Empire Composite Squadron) will provide the Youth Colors Guard. A special proclamation will be given by Jack Ding, Mayor of the City of Sonoma.
A flyover of various military-inspired civilian aircraft piloted by Sonoma Sky Park Airmen will conclude the ceremony. The flyover will honor the memory of all Airmen and Military Airmen who gave their lives in service to their country. It will also honor the memory of 5-Star General Henry “Hap” H. Arnold, who founded the United States Air Force and called the Sonoma Valley home after World War II.
Immediately following the ceremony, the annual “All-American Picnic” hosted jointly by the Rotary Club of Sonoma Valley, the Rotary Club of Sonoma Sunrise and the Rotary Club of Sonoma Springs will be served free of charge at the Veterans Building.
Members of these local Rotary clubs will grill hamburgers and hot dogs in honor of the late Howard (Howie) Ehret, a retired United States Navy Captain who was a community leader, volunteer, and very energetic Rotarian. Rotarians will be greatly assisted by the Native Daughters of the Golden West.
While the picnic is complementary to veterans and their families and friends, a “Star of Honor” pledge campaign will take place during the picnic for donations needed to maintain and improve the Sonoma Veterans Memorial Park and assistance with the cost of applying names of local deceased veterans to the Star of Honor.
As most local veterans know, the Star of Honor Fountain, which was unveiled at this event 17 years ago, is now the centerpiece of Sonoma Veterans Memorial Park. The late Sonoma artist Robert Behrens designed the fountain; the black granite walls of this fountain will be engraved with the names of all deceased veterans of the Sonoma Valley over a three hundred year period beginning with the American Revolution.
The memorial park and fountain would not exist today without the vision, leadership and financial support of late WWII United States Navy veteran James “Jim” L. Parks and his family.
Veterans wishing to participate in the Great March are asked to assemble at 10:30 a.m. sharp under the flag of their branch of the armed forces in the parking lot. The Veterans Building is located at 126 First St W. The ceremony itself begins at 11 a.m.
Places are limited and the weather is normally warm and sunny at this time of year. Although pop-up tent canopies provide shade for many spectators, not all chairs will fit under these canopies. Therefore, it is highly recommended to arrive early and wear a hat or sun visor.
This event would not be possible without the help of many local organizations, citizens and businesses who volunteer their time, money, goods and services. Two separate planning committees (one for the Memorial Day Viewing Ceremony and one for the American Picnic) have also been meeting for months behind the scenes to ensure this event will be a success in 2022.
Members of the Observance Ceremony Planning Committee are local Sonoma Valley residents who represent all of the major veteran organizations located in the Sonoma Valley. They are: Gary Magnani (Chair), Terry Leen (Vice-Chair), Chip Allen (Master of Ceremonies), Dr. Timothy Norman (Marshal of Ceremonial Protocol), Bryan Aubin, Gene Campagna, Leslie Fuller, John Gray, Ronda Ross- Leen, Bob Leonard, Leighton Parks, Robert Smith, Mary Smith, Maria Toimill, Willi Vaughn and Stephanie Wadell.
Members of the All-American Picnic Planning Committee are Vicki Whiting (Chair), Ruth Parks Chambers, Vicki Scharnikow, Therese Nugent, Sam Morphy, Ron Lawson, Rich Lee, Gayle Arrowood, Coleen Calvin, and Lory Campagna.