Elk Grove held it’s annual Memorial Day Ceremony this morning at the Elk Grove-Cosumnes Cemetery, along Elk Grove Blvd near highway 99. The focus of the ceremony was on World War II.
On a day that would reach the high 90’s, those in attendance were thankful for the shade provided by the trees at the cemetery. The ceremony started off with the presentation of the colors and the United States Flag, followed by the pledge of allegiance and the Star Spangled Banner.
The story of Elk Grove resident Preston Hanford was told. Hanford served during WWII in the Pacific Theater. He was on hand to accept the surrender of the Japanese military at one of the many locations in the Pacific. Though he was only a Corporal, Hanford was chosen because the United States would often send in a lower ranking officer to meet with the highest ranking Japanese officer during surrender ceremonies, as a sign of disrespect. According to the story, Hanford had fought in some of the bloodiest battles during the war, and when it came time to face the enemy and accept his surrender, Hanford was filled with disgust. As he leaned in to speak to the Major of the Japanese Army, he said, “well you son of a bitch, we kicked your ass didn’t we?” In perfect English, the Japanese Major said, “yes you did Marine.” Hanford was stunned and asked for clarification from the Major, who told Hanford that as a young boy he was sent to the United States where he was educated, but was forced to return to Japan and serve in the military under a threat to his family. Hanford then saw the man, not as merely an enemy, but as another warrior who had also witnessed the horrors of war in much the same as Hanford.
The words of President Roosevelt’s “Date of Infamy” speech were also read during the ceremony. The ceremony concluded with the playing of Taps and a gun salute. The public was then invited to walk from the cemetery to Elk Grove park and enjoy a lunch provided for the event
Entire video of the ceremony can be seen on the Elk Grove Laguna Forums Facebook page