Search for names adds tradition to veteran ceremonies

Locals peruse the commemorative pavers outside the Veterans Memorial Building in Hollister shortly before this year's Memorial Day ceremony.

For more than a decade with occasions like Memorial Day, locals have perused the brick pavers at the Veterans Memorial Building courtyard’s outer edge to see a glimpse of someone they once knew, or perhaps a family member or friend who died for the country.
On Memorial Day in Hollister this week, the tradition continued shortly before the noontime ceremony in downtown Hollister. Those pavers, with engravings of local names, have honored fallen soldiers since the city finished a Veterans Memorial Building renovation 13 years ago.
Hollister’s Jonathan Perales, a veteran of North Korea and Vietnam, was among those interested in the pavers Monday, at one point slapping the cement in excitement so two young relatives could sense the discovery’s significance. Hollister is among many communities throughout the U.S. honoring fallen soldiers in a commemorative, visible, interactive way. Such memorials, on a much smaller level, replicate the concept made famous by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.
At Hollister’s paver site, though, the memorial brings a local focus.
“I have brothers that are on that, that I was in Boy Scouts with,” Perales said, referring to late locals like an infantryman killed in Vietnam whose name adorns one of the commemorative pavers.
Perales shared strong views when asked about the importance of Memorial Day, too.
“We should remember what’s going on with the blood and the guts and we should stop that,” he said. “Because it’s old now.”
Leona Valdez of Hollister stood over some of the pavers before the ceremony trying to find a late brother-in-law.
“They said it’s three or four squares from ‘T Bone’,” said Valdez, pointing to another paver’s name.

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