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Hundreds turn out for Memorial Day ceremonies in Pleasanton

Speakers include Mayor Thorne, Camp Parks commander Gerdes

One of the largest crowds ever turned out yesterday for Pleasanton's annual Memorial Day ceremony just outside the city's Senior Center on Sunol Boulevard.

The event, hosted by the American Legion Pleasanton Post 237 with the assistance of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Pleasanton Post 6298, honored those who died while serving their country.

Speakers, including Mayor Jerry Thorne, Army Lt. Col Christopher Gerdes and VFW Vice Commander Russ Kennedy Jr. pointed out that while Veterans Day honors all in the military, including veterans and those on active duty, Memorial Day is a specific day set aside to honor those who are deceased.

Patriotic music was provided at the start of the ceremonies and with special medleys during the ceremony by the Pleasanton Community Concert Band under the direction of Bob Williams.

Bill Leedle, commander of Legion Post 237 opened the ceremony, introducing Kennedy of VFW Post 6298, who gave the welcoming address. Then the combined Legion and VFW color guard under the direction of guard commander Jim Lyon presented the colors, followed by the "Pledge of Allegiance," led by Eagle Scout Oliver Heiman of Troop 998.

Mayor Thorne's remarks followed.

The keynote speaker was Lt. Col. Gerdes, who announced that his two-year term of service as garrison commander at Camp Parks in Dublin was ending, and he bid a fond farewell to the Tri-Valley.

A 21-gun salute to veterans by the UC Berkeley Air Force R.O.T.C. followed, with Donna Willy then playing the bagpipe and Taps, played by the Concert Band.

Earlier, on Saturday morning, Scouts from Troops 941 and 998 placed small American flags on the more than 600 veterans' graves at St. Augustine Catholic and Pleasanton Pioneer cemeteries.

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