On Memorial Day, the Town of Paradise Valley was able to participate and honor the military veterans and all those who have served in all branches of service, along with their families, who sacrificed and did so much to provide the freedoms, democracy and integrity for our country.
As town residents are likely aware, every Memorial Day, there is a special Memorial Day service that occurs at the Camelback Cemetery on McDonald Drive across from Kiva School in Paradise Valley.
Because of COVID-19, the traditional Paradise Valley Memorial Day service was postponed and moved to the military statue honoring veterans located in front of the Scottsdale City Library, primarily because there would be more space available for physical distancing for attendees, along with shade under the trees.
Many people came. The Color Guard posted the flag, the military guard fired a salute, taps was played on the bugle, and two wreaths were laid on the statue to honor veterans.
American Legion Post 44 led the efforts to host this event in conjunction with the City of Scottsdale and many veterans.
I was privileged as vice mayor to represent Mayor Jerry Bien-Willner and the Town of Paradise Valley and speak at the event to show our council’s united support for our military. The following are some excerpts from my presentation.
This opportunity allowed me to share my first encounter with war and the impact made in so many lives. When I was young, the Vietnam War was occurring. We learned of the POW-MIAs and, from sixth grade on, I wore a metal bracelet with the name of a soldier who was a POW-MIA.
It was compelling to wear the bracelet each day and look at it thinking about the soldier and many others missing in action or taken as prisoners and the extreme sacrifices they and their families made.
The soldier I honored by wearing the bracelet was never returned and his remains were never recovered.
My uncle served as a Lt. Colonel in the Air Force at Tan Son Nhut, outside of Saigon, when the base was overrun in the 1966 attack. My uncle survived and proudly served in the Air Force and was a career officer.
Today, he has children who also are career military in the Air Force.
My father-in-law was a committed Navy Commander and a 20-year veteran who served in the South Pacific in World War II. He had plenty of interesting and thoughtful stories of WWII and his service on the aircraft carrier USS Coral Sea. And, he served under both Sen. John McCain’s father and grandfather.
He is interred at the Arizona Veterans Cemetery.
I was pleased when I had the opportunity to represent the Town of Paradise Valley to work with the Army Recruiting office in meeting approximately 50 high school graduates who had committed to enter military service. The impact for me of being able to shake their hands, look them in the eye with pride and respect as I placed a stole on each high school graduate and hear their chosen field as they enter the Army was profound.
Some were slated to be heavy equipment mechanics, medics and nurses, Army Rangers, computer technician specialists and many more occupations that make up the needs of the Army. It was a moving experience to see the bright and youthful graduates advancing towards careers in the military.
Standing before them as they recited together the Soldier’s Creed was powerful and inspiring.
And, I was proud to highlight Sen. John McCain, a military veteran who served our country and focused on military personnel and veterans and their needs. In 1982, I was privileged to help Sen. McCain in his very first election to Congress at campaign events in Mesa, Arizona.
Recently, I talked with his son Jack McCain and told him the story of me being a hostess and raising monies at homes in Mesa for his dad’s first election to the House of Representatives when I was 21 years old.
Please take a moment to remember and thank those who serve in the military, and their families, for the contributions they have made and continue to make to preserve our liberties. And, please say a prayer for those veterans who have passed.
We hope to see you at next year’s Memorial Day Service.
Editor’s Note: Julie Pace is the vice mayor of Paradise Valley and seeking reelection to Town Council in the Aug. 4 primary election.