“Our lives are free, our nation safe because of them. They fought for us, for us they fell. Because of them, all the world is a better place,” someone once said.
That sentiment echoed through the Mission Viejo Civic Center on Monday as hundreds gathered to honor those who paid the ultimate price, others who served, and those serving today as the reason for observing Memorial Day. They’re all American heroes and Memorial Day is the one day of the year when everyone remembers their sacrifice. The symbol of American pride surrounded Mission Viejo’s service honoring the people who proudly fought under the flag.
The morning ceremony included the unveiling of a bronze plaque in memory of a Mission Viejo Marine who died last December from injuries suffered in Afghanistan. Sgt. Jason D. Peto was a 31-year-old member of the Third Battalion, Fifth Marine Regiment, First Marine Division from Camp Pendleton.
The American Heroes Tribute banners were on display in the Civic Center courtyard honoring and remembering military personnel – including Sgt. Peto and Lance Corporal Ralph J. Fabbri from the City’s adopted Headquarters Battalion, First Marine Division – who lost their lives.
You could hear a pin drop as the Marine color guard presented the colors and a bugler played taps before the rifle salute stirred emotion in many. Reverend Tom Tyree, chaplain from the American Legion, Saddleback Valley Post 862, gave the invocation.
Headquarters Battalion, First Marine Division Commanding Officer Colonel Rudy Janiczek was the keynote speaker and Jon Martin, president of the American Heroes Tribute, presented the banner tributes in honor of Sgt. Peto and Lance Cpl. Fabbri.
Indeed, today was a time to remember. People came to pay tribute and to never forget those who gave their lives for the freedoms we cherish so deeply.