In a military town like San Diego, remembering and honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom is second nature.
“There’s no better place to do that [than] in Coronado,” said San Diegan Alan Walter. “We can literally see the jets landing at the air base right there. It’s definitely a day to remember everybody who’s sacrificed for us to have this freedom to enjoy the beach.”
Coronado is home to two major military bases, Naval Base Coronado and Naval Air Station North Island. American flags line the streets and hints of the military presence are everywhere, making it a destination for those who wish to honor service members on Memorial Day.
“I feel for the poor ones that we lost during the service,” said Sid Singer, a World War II Veteran who was visiting Coronado Beach from Phoenix. “I was one of the lucky ones. So, I’m very grateful — very grateful just about what anybody does.”
Memorial Day 2021 at Miramar National Cemetery
San Diego County has about a half-dozen military bases and hundreds of thousands of active-duty and veteran service members. It also means many families know the pain of losing someone who served.
Kerina Cunningham was spending her Memorial Day at her husband, Jason’s, grave at Miramar National Cemetery. And, while the day was tough, she found comfort being surrounded by others who were also paying tribute to fallen service members.
“I’m so proud to be standing here along with all these family members and I know that Jason would be so proud and he took so much pride in being a military man, a Marine,” Cunningham said. “Seeing all these families here is really helping to understand that he was needed in heaven for other things. He really was a hero along with all these other people here.”
Neither of San Diego’s two veteran cemeteries, Miramar or Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery were able to host in-person Memorial Day events. But one somber tradition that had to be canceled in 2020 was back in 2021; on Saturday, hundreds of volunteers restarted the tradition of placing an American flag on each headstone.
Modifications were also being made for events at the USS Midway Museum but the annual Memorial Day ceremony aboard the ship’s flight deck had returned. Also on board, a memorial wall of photos was set up to honor the fallen. People were able to submit photos virtually, with many featured on the in-person wall.
And for those who were enjoying their day off at beaches and BBQs, Jeaneane Henson, who lost her son, Sgt. Danielle Scott Ferguson, had one request.
“While you’re at those BBQs and enjoying your family — which is what out men and women of service want for you — what I would ask is that you take maybe a minute and have a moment of silence and just hold them in your heart and thank them for that sacrifice.”