The Santa Barbara community and those beyond can gather at home, tune in and remember heroes who died in the service of our country, while maintaining COVID-19 social distancing measures.
As we wage war against COVID-19, which is causing us to make major changes to our way of life, it is important to continue time honored traditions that give us purpose along with a sense of normalcy during these challenging times. While we’ve temporarily given up certain freedoms in order to protect our health and that of others, we mustn’t forget those who made the ultimate sacrifice with their lives during times our country was engaged in war on foreign soil. This year, as in years past, Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation (PCVF) is pleased to present the 2020 Memorial Day community event. What’s special about this year’s program is that residents in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties have an opportunity to gather together remotely to view a televised broadcast in the safety and comfort of their homes. Thanks to KEYT, our local ABC affiliate, the program will air at 4 PM on Monday, May 25th. You can also watch the program after the broadcast, once it’s posted to the Foundation’s website, by going to PCVF.org.
The line-up slated for the PCVF Memorial Day broadcast includes a traditional bagpipe processional taking place at the Santa Barbara Cemetery. The opening statement will be given by PCVF Board Chairman Col. Philip J. Conran (USAF, ret.). Conran is a 30 year veteran with a highly decorated career, having been awarded the Air Force Cross – the highest award the Air Force can give. Prior to that, he received a Purple Heart, the Airman’s Medal, four Distinguished Flying Crosses for actions in Vietnam and the Legion of Merit medal. Lt. Col. Patricia Rumpza (USAF, ret.) will lead the Pledge of Allegiance, David Gonzales will lend his beautiful voice to sing the National Anthem, LTC Jack Armstrong, U.S. Army (ret.) will deliver the invocation and will be followed by a choir singing “Shenandoah.” The main speaker will be Anthony J. Mastalir, Commander, 30th Space Wing and Western Launch and Test Range, Vandenberg Air Force Base. We also will hear from Brig. General Fred Lopez, who has served more than 30 years of active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps and Reserve and was awarded the Navy Distinguished Service medal. There will be an address by PCVF co-founder Lt. John Blankenship (USN former) informing us on the work of service members involved on the frontlines of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. The event will conclude with a solo bugle performance of “Taps” and a “Missing Man” fly-over formation.
Lt. Blankenship shares that PCVF felt it was important to find a way to continue the Memorial Day event to honor those who have died serving our country and to demonstrate America’s resilience by prevailing over adversity caused by COVID-19 – the invisible enemy. He says that, “With the support of the KEYT production team, our organization found a way to transition our once live programming to a televised and digital format. In fact, now more people can join together, but safely apart, to remember those in uniform who have passed before us.”
This important work underscores the mission of the organization, which is, in the words of founder Pierre Claeyssens, “To be killed in war is not the worst that can happen. To be lost is not the worst that can happen… to be forgotten is the worst.” If you would like to ensure our local veterans are thanked, honored and supported all year long, you can make a tax-deductible donation by visiting the organization’s website: pcvf.org.
About Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation
Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation is committed to honoring the men and women who have served in uniform at any time. PCVF does this by supporting veterans and active duty members, and related partner organizations, in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, as well as preserving military history and legacy. The Foundation works to uphold Pierre Claeyssens’s vision that those who have served are “Never Forgotten.” PCVF is funded entirely by private donations. For more information, visit www.pcvf.org or call (805) 259-4394.