Solemness of the occasion did not befall those in attendance Monday at the various Memorial Day observances held throughout the San Pedro Valley.

Benson VFW Post 6271 hosted and conducted the ceremonies at Pomerene and St. David cemeteries, then presided over the city’s observance held at Veterans Memorial Park on Fourth Street.

In Pomerene where Memorial Day is a town-inclusive event, residents gathered at the cemetery early in the morning to spruce up grave sites and visit, followed by the traditional hot cakes, eggs and sausage breakfast. The Boy Scouts raised the flag at that ceremony.

A brief ceremony followed at St. David Cemetery with the Benson observance capping the day’s events. Each observance concluded with the customary 21-gun salute and Taps, performed by Ernie Bernal and Marcus Tucker.

In Benson, attendance seemed lower than in past years. Benson’s hour- long ceremony capped the day’s observances.

Service organizations, representing VFW Post 6271, American Legion Post 45, their respective Auxiliaries, and the Marine Corps League Detachment, participated.

WWII veteran Paul Kerchum and a Bataan Death March survivor offered his annual address, met by a standing ovation from the gallery.

Kerchum, speaking from memory, talked about the death march, how the Japanese captors mistreated captives, and life aboard one of the Japanese Hell Ships, where he and other captives performed hard labor.

Kerchum said it’s important to honor the memory of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, as well as their families, who also sacrificed, he said.

Because of the wind, and blowing train horns from the rumbling Southern Pacific Railroad freightliners, it was at times difficult to hear speakers.

A potluck reception was held at the VFW Post following the ceremony.


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