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Photos and Text by C. Jayden Smith

The city of San Clemente’s Memorial Day Observance event Monday morning, May 30, drew former military service members, families, and community members alike to honor the memories of lost loved ones who fought for the nation.

Attendees took part in moments of silence and prayer, not only for fallen soldiers but for victims of recent tragedies such as the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, and roared in applause for the singing of the National Anthem and God Bless America, as performed by San Clemente’s Taylor Peterson.

They were also moved by the words of the keynote speaker, retired Lance Corporal of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines Keene Sherburne, and those of Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer.

Sherburne recounted his traumatic experience with a suicide bombing attempt in Iraq as a machine gunner and “bullet sponge,” and of the too-mature-for-his-age conversations he had with fellow soldiers as a 19-year-old about mortality. He remembered a close friend of his, known for his everlasting smile, that wasn’t able to come back.

“I’ve heard people say, ‘Hey, man, don’t you know what Memorial Day is? It’s not about hanging out and having a barbecue with your friends,’” Sherburne said. “I disagree. Those that passed on, this is exactly what they want us to do.”

He added that servicemembers everywhere who have given their lives did so that people in America could live the life they do.

“All I ask, all that they ask, is that while you drink the beer, while you flip the burger, remember why you get to do that,” said Sherburne.

C. Jayden Smith

C. Jayden Smith graduated from Dana Hills High in 2018 before pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in digital and broadcast journalism from the University of North Texas. After graduating in December 2020, he reported for the Salina Journal in Salina, Kansas. Jayden loves college football and bothering his black lab named Shadow.

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