Veterans gather in outer East Portland for Memorial Day observation

It’s great having a three-day weekend, but let’s take a moment to remember the meaning behind the day …

Retired submariner George Hager begins the observance in outer East Portland by sounding his bugle.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The Memorial Day observance at Oregon Baptist Retirement Homes (OBRH) is a simple, brief affair – this year held on May 22 – dedicated to the memory of those who have served our nation in the Armed Forces.

“I’m very proud to be an American,” exclaimed OBRH’s Lou Fontana, the organizer of the event, to those present. “I’m very proud to have served four years in the Marine Corps.”

Arnie Olson tells how circumstances protected his life during WWII.

Several individuals spoke briefly about their military careers, including Arnie Olson.

“If everything had gone as expected, I would not be here today,” began Olson. “I was in the infantry training camp at Camp Roberts in California. I was about to be shipped out to Japan. But I got sick and missed that ship-out. So, they sent me across to Europe.

“Then, I was in the Second Division in March of 1944, and I should have been going on to D-Day. But they pulled me out of that, and sent me to London to headquarters. Thankfully, I’m still here. Serving in the ministry, and now as a chaplain, I’ve always been proud of my military service, and proud to have served with so many brave men and women who worked to keep our country free.”

After playing another call, bugler George Hager tells of military life at sea.

The event’s bugler, George Hagar, told us about his service in the U.S. Navy during the war, at the conclusion of the observance. “I served on a submarine tender – a supply ship called the USS Fulton – during World War II, from beginning to end,” Hagar related. “Our submarine tender was the first of its class to be built; it was 530 feet long.

“My ship, in June of 1942, was sent to the Battle of Midway to retrieve the 1,895 survivors that were on duty on the USS Yorktown when it was sunk. We returned them to Pearl Harbor. Then we went back out, after taking on more supplies. We went back out to Midway and rebuilt the military base.”

Hagar said Memorial Day celebrations are important to him. “It’s celebration of what our country has done and can do, to preserve freedom. We have the best nation in the world.” He listed off observances at which he’ll bugle, during the long holiday weekend – from East Portland, to Tualatin, to Beaverton Memorial Park. “I’ll be joining the crew of the USS Albacore – we gather there in honor of Memorial Day.”

Service men and women stand to be recognized at the observance.

If you know a family of a service man or woman who is overseas, this weekend would be a good time to see if you can be of assistance – or at least, to include them in your celebration.

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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