Note from the Editor: The following is a response to a Letter to the Editor that was published on Tuesday, May 28. That letter can be found here.
I have the honor and privilege to lead the City of Milpitas Memorial Day Ceremony as your Mayor. We have a few thousand military veterans across our community, there’s probably a veteran residing on every street, making it truly safer for all our families. Here in Milpitas, we have a Veterans Commission, which I’m proud to serve on alongside former Commanders, Commissioned Officers, and Enlisted service members.
So it goes without saying that Memorial Day is one of the most important days in our town over the past 65 years. It’s a great sense of pride to be among the Milpitas military families that have served and sacrificed for our everyday freedom. We give our deepest respect especially to those who sacrificed it all for our freedom. Their names are etched in stone at our Veterans Plaza. We continue to honor those by naming city streets in their memory. There’s a street named after my former Pomeroy Elementary sixth grade classmate Mike Mihalakis.
I take offense to have someone question my patriotism and deep appreciation for not only our fallen heroes, but for veterans as well. We always give our all to our fallen heroes and veterans — it’s The Milpitas Way.
There’s nothing more American than Memorial Day. Americans, we will die for our freedom and the freedom of our fellow Americans. Our American history is built on the ultimate sacrifice of Americans who answered their nation’s call.
In Milpitas, we recognize this truth, and display patriotism in line with any other city in American. Our American flags fly highest and half staff on cue. Our ceremonies begin with the Milpitas Community Band and Jeff Yeager orchestrating our nation’s proud songs. Our tradition includes playing all five military branch songs: Marines, Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard. Veterans know it’s time to rise and stand tall for their respective service. It’s a special moment every time for each veteran. I can see the human body tremble with each woman or man that rises from their seat.
On Memorial Day, we recognize and honor our American Veterans, through military branch song. We recognize and honor our fallen heroes through war category on stone monuments. You can visit Veterans Plaza and read the names. I know I can read the name of someone I know from Milpitas who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.
So where did I go wrong with this year’s Memorial Day Ceremony? I didn’t. If you look at the crowd year in and year out, there’s veterans that are not recognized who wear a different uniform. Standing at the podium, looking into the great crowd, you undoubtedly can’t miss the Korean and Vietnamese veterans who served alongside American soldiers in the fight for freedom and democracy. When the band plays American military branch songs, it is inappropriate for them to stand. They sit. Unrecognized and without honor. I learned that a couple years ago when I led the ceremony for the first time.
In Milpitas or anywhere in our United States, I will always recognize those who also sacrificed alongside our American troops. The Koreans and Vietnamese are there. Every year. In dress or battle uniform. Sitting straight and paying their respect. It would be a profound mistake if I did not recognize our allies who also gave some and knew others that gave more than most. I will not let you go unrecognized or without honor. I say this in the name of freedom.
The Milpitas Way is to not leave a soldier, sailor, airman, marine, or coast guardsman behind. We are Milpitas. We are American.
Mayor Rich Tran
United States Air National Guard
129 Rescue Wing, Moffett Airfield, CA