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Wed, May 20, 2020

Memorial Day Remembrance at Evergreen Cemetery

For decades, on the last Monday in May, Santa Cruzans join friends, neighbors, and local veterans at Evergreen Cemetery to commemorate Memorial Day. This observance usually features speakers, musical tributes, a rifle salute, and traditional flag folding. It is a special moment where our community can come together to honor and mourn the military personnel who gave their lives in service of our Country.

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The remembrance is held in the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) plot at Evergreen Cemetery, which the MAH maintains as one of its offsite historical locations. This plot is for Union veterans of the Civil War and has been used as a focal point for Memorial Day events in Santa Cruz for over 150 years.

Although this year we can’t gather to honor our fallen soldiers at this event, it is still important that we take the time to remember those who have lost their lives serving our country.

Read on as we interview a few local veterans and explain more about the importance of this national holiday.

Chuck Woodson

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Chuck Woodson is a retired U.S. Army Special Forces (Green Beret) Chief Warrant Officer Four (CW4) with twenty-four plus years of service. He served in Vietnam in the late 1960’s and went back in 1985. He retired in November 2006 after serving in the European, Latin American and Pacific Theaters.

He is currently the President at United Veterans Council of Santa Cruz County.

Why is Memorial Day important?

Chuck: We must mourn, remember, and honor those that made the ultimate sacrifice for our Country and take time to never forget.

Is there a specific person you honor on Memorial Day?

Chuck: I lost my mentor, Master Sergeant Edward Coffee while he was in Vietnam and several others during my military service over the years. When I retired I joined the American Legion in Santa Cruz and the Veteran of Foreign Wars (VFW) in Aptos to give back to veterans and their family members.

How do you honor your fallen soldiers?

Chuck: While serving in the American Legion in Santa Cruz, I was introduced to the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) Plot at the Evergreen Cemetery in Santa Cruz by Marvin Shaw. Marvin has since passed away, but I have continued to support and participate in the Museum of Art and History's Memorial Day Remembrance held at the GAR Plot each year on Memorial Day in Santa Cruz.

LoisRae Guin

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LoisRae Guin grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania where life revolved around church and family. She graduated nursing school in New York at age 21, where she was a member of the Cadet Corps and earned her RN license, and later a BS with honors. She served in the US Navy Nurse Corps for 4 years, stationed in Philadelphia, PA; Portsmouth, NH; Annapolis, MD; and aboard the hospital ship USS Haven for 8 months in Korea during the Korean War. She was involved in bringing wounded POWs home following the peace pact in 1953.

Why is Memorial Day important?

LoisRae: Growing up, Memorial Day was always a very special family day for visiting the graves of family members and friends to honor and pay respect to those who were gone but always in our hearts.

How do you honor your fallen soldiers?

LoisRae: Volunteering with various veterans groups to help veterans in need, and honoring all veterans through Poppy Days and cemetery flag placement are important and fulfilling events for me, living up to my family values. As a child, my mother and grandmother were strong loving women who taught me the important values of honesty, integrity, caring, kindness and helping others.

While we may not be able to honor our loved ones together this year, volunteers will be cleaning up and placing flags on gravestones throughout Evergreen Cemetery. If you'd like to stop by to pay your respects, Evergreen is open Sunrise to Sunset. If you choose to visit, we ask that you please maintain social distancing in accordance with the County Health recommendations.

How will you be observing Memorial Day this year?

To learn more about local Veteran resources and services please visit Santa Cruz County Veterans Memorial Building website.
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The Difference Between Memorial Day & Veteran's Day

Memorial Day honors the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. This holiday was originally known as Decoration Day, and started in the years following the Civil War (1865). It became an official federal holiday in 1971. Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings, and participating in parades.

Veterans Day is a holiday that celebrates those who have served in the U.S. military. It gives Americans the opportunity to celebrate the bravery and sacrifice of all U.S. veterans. On this day in November, some people may volunteer at veteran organizations while others may honor veterans in their communities at events or in their homes.

“During this time of isolation and instability, we all need to not only take time to mourn, remember, and honor those military service member that made the ultimate sacrifice, but also recognize those members of our community that are putting their lives on the line for us every day medically, logistically and with other services that put them in harm’s way.”

- Chuck Woodson