Sunday, January 16 2022

Veterans Day was November 11. Last year, the town’s ceremony was held outdoors and the public was not allowed to attend. This year, the ceremony was held in the multipurpose room of the Community Center and the public was allowed to attend and participate. The hour-long event honored our veterans who served or are serving the nation in the Armed Forces. Mayor Gérard Giudice was the master of ceremonies. The entire city council was present. City Hall displayed the POW / MIA flag, the first ceremonial flag to fly above City Hall in the city’s history. Other dignitaries in attendance included Sonoma County District 3 Supervisor Chris Coursey. Former mayors Jake Mackenzie and Greg Nordin were also in attendance.

After Giudice’s welcome address, the US Coast Guard Honor Guard at Petaluma Training Center presented the colors. The audience stood up and joined in the pledge of allegiance, they remained standing while the star spangled banner was being played. A short film was shown on US Air Force MSGT John Chapman and his actions that led to the Medal of Honor being awarded. Chapman was the first aviator to receive the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War. The action took place at the Battle of Takur Ghar during the war in Afghanistan. The medal was awarded posthumously because Chapman was fatally injured during the engagement. His actions saved the lives of his entire team.

Captain Andy Durkee, USCG (Ret) then stepped onto the podium to showcase the latest additions to the city’s “Armed Forces Banner Program”. Five active duty military personnel have been recognized by this program. These were Joseph Aliotti, a 2019 Credo High School graduate who joined the US Air Force; Lee Maria Bunney, a 2009 Technology High School graduate who joined the US Navy; Jared Shacklett, a 2020 Rancho Cotate graduate who also joined the US Navy; Gary Gritsch, an Analy High School graduate who joined the United States Marine Corps; and Brady O’Donnell, a 2017 Technology High School graduate who entered the U.S. military. Durkee thanked the city and everyone who made this program possible. For more information, he can be contacted at

[email protected]

A salute to the armed forces followed. As everyone’s service song was played, the service veterans stood up and were recognized by the attendees. The ceremony ended with a “Flag Retreat” presentation by Girl Scouts from seven different troops. This ceremony takes place when the flag is taken out of service due to weather damage. After describing it, those present went out into the courtyard to observe the ceremony. The damaged flag was securely held while one by one the thirteen bands were cut from the flag. The Girl Scouts would come up and identify each band as representing a particular state that was one of the original thirteen states. They would then drop it into the fireplace to be burnt. The blue field with the fifty stars was eventually added to the pit because it represented the whole of the United States.

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