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Citrus Heights Messenger

Sylvan Cemetery Memorial Day Service Honors Fallen Heroes

Jun 05, 2024 01:55PM ● By Elise Spleiss, photos by Elise Spleiss

Veterans are honored at the ceremony.


CITRUS HEIGHTS, CA (MPG) - A warm morning greeted more than 100 veterans, families and guests as they arrived at the Sylvan Cemetery gazebo on May 27 for the traditional Memorial Day Service.

Inside and outside seating were offered this year. 

Citrus Heights residents

 Many Citrus Heights residents gathered to honor the fallen.


As is tradition, the Harmony Express choral group performed throughout the morning, including the Armed Service Medley, with Coast Guard, Marines, Navy, Army and Air Force members standing as their branch of service were announced.

Citrus Heights Monica Matagulay grandson

Citrus Heights resident Monica Matagulay brought her grandson, Anthony, to the service. Her father was a veteran of two wars and an Army Ranger special. 


American Legion Post 637 Commander and Master of Ceremony Paul Reyes welcomed all veterans and guests. Special guests were Sacramento County Supervisor Sue Frost, Vice-Mayor Jayne Karpinski Costa, City Councilmember Porsche Middleton, City Manager Ash Feeney and Police Chief Alex Turcotte.

Supervisor Frost, a Citrus Heights native, returned to this venue to honor those veterans who gave their lives for their country. 

Sacramento County Supervisor Sue Frost

 Sacramento County Supervisor Sue Frost speaks at the 2024 memorial service.


Frost thanked Post 637 for bringing the community together regularly to “remember events in history that shaped our great nation, to remember the men and women who held the line during wartime and to provide a national defense in times of peace.” 

Frost said that the real events in history that paved the road to freedom “must be taught to our children, immigrants and refugee who come to live here.  Freedom is not free.”

Citrus Heights Police Chief Turcotte shared the commonalities between those who serve in the armed forces and law enforcement. Many police officers are veterans, he said.

For first responders, law enforcement and veterans’ families who look at an American flag, Turcotte said, “We see a price, a cost. We know that freedom is not free, somebody had to stand up and say, ‘evil goes no further, we will protect those who cannot protect themselves.’”

“It is an honor to remember the sacrifices of those who stood up and answered that call. No matter where their job was. Whether drafted or volunteered,” Turcotte said.

Vietnam Armed Forces Medley

 A Vietnam veteran stands as his branch is called during the Armed Forces Medley.


Speaking on behalf of City Council, City Manager Feeney thanked each veteran present. He spoke of a recent day with his local Boy Scout troop when he taught them about working to earn their Citizenship in the Community merit badge, focusing on the Declaration of Independence.

For the last 10 years, his Scouts have gone to Calvary Cemetery to lay flags at each veteran’s grave site.  They were told to stop at each marker, read the name out loud, thank them for their service, and look at the age they died in defense of their country. Many were 18 to 20 years old. 

Jim Monteton, Sylvan Cemetery board member and Post 637 member, said that more than 1,400 veterans are buried at Sylvan.  He told of how and why national cemeteries were created beginning with Arlington National Cemetery, (400,000 burials), former land owned by Robert E. Lee and Gettysburg.

Citrus Heights Police Department Honor Guard

 Citrus Heights Police Department Honor Guard presents arms.


There are now 164 national cemeteries throughout the United States, including Hawaii, with nine being in California. Sacramento Valley National in Dixon has 52,000 burials since 2006. Monteton noted how he realized all the perfectly lined up rows of white markers are alike. None of the fallen buried there are known by race, nationality, religion, male or female. It is estimated that more than 40 million men and women have served in the military since 1775, many in multiple wars. Four million have died in combat defending their country.

“A small group who has supported a big group to keep the enemy at bay and maintain our freedom,” Monteton said.

Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Regent Deborah Bartlett spoke of their visit to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at the Sacramento capitol. The descendant of a Vietnam immigrant brought her 9-year-old special needs daughter to the cemetery. Bartlett told the poignant story of how, if it were not for the service of our servicemen helping her family, they would not be here today.

Reyes thanked the Sylvan Cemetery Manager, Citrus Heights Police Department Honor Guard and Harmony Express for their help with the service.

Harmony Express closed with a rendition of “God Bless America.”

Citrus Heights

 The crowd stands to honor and remember American heroes.


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