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Lost at Sea ceremony is truly moving

Memorial Day weekend is our nationally designated R&R to mark the start of summer, right? Good enough, but Memorial Day was intended to remember those who died while serving our country within or beyond our borders.

Our assignment is reflection on lives lost protecting our freedoms.

The Estero Bay has a rich tradition of Memorial Day remembrances.

For the 47th year, Los Osos Valley Memorial Park will present arms and march in step in a multitude of service uniforms beginning at 10:30 a.m.

Representatives from military service agencies, Morro Bay police, County/Cal Fire, the Coast Guard, CHP and Scouting programs will join retired Marine Maj. Jim Hawkins at the staging area for Americana at its finest.

Chief Norm Marous of the Vandenberg Air Force Base Ceremonial Honor Guard is the guest speaker. The Estrella Warbirds and skydivers provide the “oohs” and “aahs.”

Pomp and circumstance, red, white and blue heart-swelling pride describes the Los Osos ceremony.

Then in Cayucos at 3 p.m., the mood turns subdued for 50 minutes of solemn consideration during the Lost at Sea program.

In 2001, a determined group, including Tom Madsen, the Rev. Doug Carroll and the Rev. Bill Houston, heeded “Atascadero Joe” Eyeraud’s constant pleas to local talk radio hosts Dave Congalton and Bill Benica that such an oceanside remembrance should be created.

The assembly meets for a brief ceremony on the pier adjacent to the Cayucos Veterans Memorial Lions Hall recalling the unnamed military, fishermen, surfers, and swimmers who have been lost at sea.

“The first year, I was blown away by the impact,” said Trudy O’Brien, who has carried the wreath for 11 years representing the Morro Bay Commercial Fishermen organization. “This event is not to be taken lightly.”

Tom Madsen guides the program, including a salute to Old Glory flown at half-staff.

Recently donated by U.S. Rep. Lois Capps, the flag flew over the Capitol. Houston delivers a profound salute to prisoners of war and soldiers missing in action.

Guns salute. The bell sounds the forlorn toll. Bagpipes, bugles and drums signal the uniformed representatives, including the Merchant Marines, to formation for the pier “march” with all who attend.

Wilmar Tognazzini and O’Brien will carry a large biodegradable wreath to the end of the pier, where it will be ceremoniously surrendered to the sea.

Chambers, Lions, Rotary and Kiwanis join with military and protection agencies for this happening. At 3:50 p.m., the Warbirds bring closure with a Missing Man flyover.

A poem, “Seafarers,” by Ray Carreau reflects the collective hope, “Sail they in memories forever more.”

Reach Judy Salamacha at 801-1422 or