The event, which took place under perfectly sunny skies as a light wind whipped the many American flags along the walkway and adorning the headstones of veterans, was dedicated to Mount Shasta's Tony Ginocchio.

A bald eagle soared over the crowd of disjointed groups assembled Monday at the Mt. Shasta Memorial Park for one of the only Memorial Day services that soldiered on despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hosted by Siskiyou County Sheriff Jon Lopey and attended by dignitaries including U.S. Congressman Doug LaMalfa, the event recognized those who fell in the line of duty, as well as their families, “who often suffer the most ... staying behind and bearing the burden without their loved ones,” Lopey said.

“I’m also going to go out on a limb here and say (Memorial Day) honors those who died prematurely” as a result of physical and psychological wounds inflicted while serving their country, Lopey said.

A moment of silence was observed in honor of the 82,000 American prisoners of war and those who went missing in action.

Lopey recognized various veterans in the audience, calling them each heroes. He also asked family members of those who are currently serving in the military, or who have endured their loved ones’ deployment, to stand for recognition.

The event, which took place under perfectly sunny skies as a light wind whipped the many American flags along the walkway and adorning the headstones of veterans, was dedicated to Tony Ginocchio.

Ginocchio was a decorated Vietnam combat veteran and heavily decorated former U.S. Army Soldier, paratrooper, Ranger, and Special Forces operator who died April 30. Lopey called Ginocchio, who had been involved with the Elks and many organizations that honor and support veterans, “a brother” to everyone who has served their country.

Ginocchio’s wife and sisters were in the audience and were honored with hearty applause.

Speaking briefly at the podium were Siskiyou County Supervisors Ed Valenzuela, who represents the Mt. Shasta area and Dunsmuir, and Ray Haupt, who represents Scott Valley and the western half of the county.

Haupt said he appreciated the ceremony, adding there is some urgency to “get our lives back.” He said the events surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic have given him insight into what could happen, “and quickly,” to our freedoms.

When called to the podium to speak, LaMalfa said Memorial Day honors veterans who “fought for something,” adding that he’s “a little worried” Americans are losing those hard-won freedoms and liberties.

LaMalfa said Monday’s event was one of the only Memorial Day services still taking place in the North State, and he thanked those who came out “for doing what we’re supposed to do” on Memorial Day under difficult circumstances.

LaMalfa reminded everyone to be kind to one another. “Stay healthy, but remember who we are as a people ... Respect each other,” he said.

LaMalfa noted that everyone is handling the pandemic differently, adding that he had a mask with him, but wasn’t wearing it at the time. About half of those at the service wore face coverings, although they were encouraged.

LaMalfa said the country will get through the coronavirus pandemic together and come through the other side, stronger than before.

“I am honored to be here with you,” LaMalfa said before leaving the podium.

After the ceremony, which included a speech by Lopey that detailed the many sacrifices made by all American veterans, from the revolution to today, a barbecue lunch was provided by Walmart Heart (an organization that Ginocchio belonged to) and the Mount Shasta Memorial Chapel and Park.

The Siskiyou County Detachment of the Marine Corps League and local American League posts provided an honor guard and 21-gun salute. Vietnam veteran and former U.S. Marine Captain Bob Singleton played taps to honor the fallen.

The event was conducted by the cemetery’s flagpole – a pole Ginocchio helped acquire for the veterans’ area of the memorial park.