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Those who died serving in military remembered during special ceremony

March 22, 2001|By MARIO RENTERÍA, Staff Writer

Rushing to work … complaining about your boss, your pay, your car … thinking about what to cook for dinner or what sports are on TV tonight.

These are privileges many American military personnel paid for with their lives in wars and other conflicts.

Recently U.S military men and women paid the ultimate price for freedom through terrorist attacks or accidents.

On Wednesday, Imperial County and Imperial Irrigation District officials and staff paid tribute to all the men and women who have died while serving in the military.

Many gathered in front of the County Courthouse in El Centro for a remembrance of those who have died in service to their country, but particularly the ones who recently lost their lives.

Bruce Kuhn, an IID director, came up with the day of remembrance idea. He had just come home from a vacation when he saw all over the news a story of a military airplane that crashed in Georgia, killing 27.

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"Even though we're not at war, we're still losing them," said Kuhn of military members.

"We ask a lot of our current personnel. We don't think about the dangers they're placed in every day while protecting our interest. I, for one, feel guilty for taking them for granted," said Kuhn.

So Kuhn went before the county Board of Supervisors asking it to pass a resolution for the remembrance after a similar resolution had been passed by the IID board.

"I just simply wanted to say, ‘Thank you,' " he added.

Lee Quarcelino and Sal Ortiz played "Taps" during the flag salute.

Also at the remembrance ceremony was the Imperial Valley War Veterans Association Chapter 102 and its youth color guard.

"It was nice. I liked it. It was a good presentation," said James Patterson, 80, of Imperial. Patterson is a World War II veteran who served in the U.S. Navy aboard the USS Yorktown.

N.O. "Benny" Benavidez, 70, of El Centro said, "It was a very emotional, very impressive and very appreciative presentation."

Benavidez is a Korean War veteran who served in the Navy.

Ted Turner, 54, of El Centro served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam war.

"I think it was excellent that it was done to recognize the young people in the military," said Turner.

The flag in front of the courthouse remained at half-staff all day Wednesday. Setting the flag at half-staff is done at cemeteries during burials of military personnel who died during battle.

A minute of silence was observed at 11 a.m.

Staff Writer Mario Rentería can be reached at 370-8549.

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