Photos by Virginia Lazar
OAKHURST — The community gathered to commemorate Patriot Day at Sierra Tel on Sept. 11, 2013. The ceremony was well attended by nearly 200 people, all gathered to remember and reflect.
Patriot Day was signed into law on December 18, 2001 as a day to remember those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001.
The Keynote Speaker this year was Larry E. Westerlund, a retired officer with the United States Naval Reserve. During his service, Westerlund received the Department of Defense Joint Commendation Medal Second Award, Navy Commendation Medal, and Navy Achievement.
Patriot Day at Sierra Tel is intended to recognize and show appreciation to all Veterans, Active Duty Military and Emergency Services Personnel for their dedication to our country and communities, as well as to honor the memory of those who were lost on home shores and overseas.
The day began with “Attention to Colors,” played by Christian Mendoza followed with flag raising by the Griswold Mountain Detatchment Marine Corps League #1121.
The Pledge of Allegiance was led by Kailyn Hammerling, after which the Yosemite High School (YHS) Chamber Singers put forth a stunning rendition of the National Anthem and “America the Beautiful.”
Sierra Tel’s Rima Runtzel welcomed the crowd and an invocation was given by Pastor Richard Lamontagne.
A thrilling performance was delivered by the YHS Advanced Percussion Ensemble.
Other speakers in attendance were District 5 Supervision Tom Wheeler and Mountain Area Representative for the Fresno/Madera Amvets Dave Wolin.
Mike Petrucci read a statement from Assemblyman Frank Bigelow and Ross Branch read a statement from Congressman Tom McClintock. Shannon Major delivered a message from Senator Tom Berryhill.
Afterwards, the Sierra Tel Safety Awareness Committee served apple pie and ice cream in the Pete Sorenson Pavilion located behind the Sierra Telephone building. (Click photos to enlarge)