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DILAN SWIFT, San Clemente

I am always impressed by San Clemente. Now, more so than ever, after the Sept. 5 memorial to our fallen Marines. For those who couldn’t make it, the street was full of somber, yet smiling patriots of all stripes. 

Young and old, veterans and civilians, parents, children, and grandparents filled Avenida Del Mar and surrounded the Marine monument. American flags were proudly held, cars honked in support, and for one moment, everyone forgot the looming stress of the pandemic and the avoidable disaster that led to these young men’s deaths.

The memorial service itself was simple, somber, and beautiful. Bagpipes and “Taps” played. The crowd recited the pledge of allegiance and national anthem, a rare occurrence these days. The names of our lost Marines, sailor, and soldier were announced and given life. 

The crowd joined in prayer to honor these sacrifices and bond us all together in sorrow and gratitude for men and women willing to give everything to serve others.

Some may believe or would want us to think that patriotism is no longer in vogue, is a relic of the past, or simply that America doesn’t deserve such appreciation. Not here. We know, appreciate, and honor the cost that freedom demands.

Our men and women just down the street have paid the price since Sept. 25, 1942, when Camp Pendleton came into being. 

I encourage all San Clementeans to keep these sacrifices in mind as we continue our lives. It is easy to be lulled into a beach-induced reverie here. It isn’t hard to let time and the flaws of a broken world fade away and seem ever so distant. 

Yet, no matter how wonderful our lives and home, that outside world still exists. War rages, poverty and famine spread, and natural disaster strikes. We must be vigilant and awake to the price we must pay for human progress and American success. 

We all know San Clemente is a special place. We must not forget that our choices determine whether it, and this great American experiment, continues to shine as a bastion of patriotism and gratitude.

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